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PERSPECTIVE: The Virtual Senior Experience
Ridley Browder

Ridley Browder '20, will attend Davidson College this fall
COVID-19 has physically changed the landscape of not only my senior experience but also my life. Dorm room to bedroom, dining hall to kitchen, classroom to Zoom, excitement to shock. As a senior, there is already a hint of the unknown swirling around college decisions, our freshman year of college, and ultimately our future adult selves. This unknown, this feeling of limbo, was amplified by the events of the coronavirus. While our next era of life would have come into full frame in August, now even that is in question. We ask, where do we go? Being at home with family is wonderful and is the responsible thing to do right now, but there is a whole world out there waiting for our senior class, a world that seems unreachable now. So it may seem, not only have we been changed physically, but we have been impacted mentally and emotionally. So...where do we go from here?

Maggie Clark '20, will attend Northeastern University this fall
COVID-19 taught me most of all to be careful what I wish for when I pray for a break from school. I feel really lucky to live in a house that can survive waiting on income and is loving and supportive. Unfortunately for me it meant losing out on a trip to finalize the hands-on work for a youth soccer league I created in Haiti and also a full scholarship to a school I was excited about. All of the sudden, I’m longing for all the responsibilities that used to weigh on me. But for some reason, bonding over this crazy experience of being apart makes me feel closer to my classmates. I just can’t wait for our next reunion! 

Anika Iqbal '20, will attend American University this fall
Spending the last months of senior year in quarantine gave me some time to reflect on what high school has been like for me. It’s super easy to get bitter about the things that we’re losing to this strange situation. However, these odd circumstances have given me the opportunity to develop somewhat of an outside perspective on my life as a Baylor student. And, in some ways, I feel as though the quarantine helped ease me into accepting leaving Baylor. I probably would’ve been a mess during the senior trip and graduation had we not been forced to spend so much time with our own thoughts. Although my time at Baylor as a student may be ending differently than I expected, I’m ready to use what I learned from experiences I had at Baylor in different places, although I will definitely be visiting as often as possible. 

Leah Kessler '20, will attend Kenyon college this fall
I don’t want to talk about how the pandemic has affected me personally. A lot of it feels too…personal. And raw. Talking about it would be like this: someone stabs me in the heart, and immediately I turn around just to have medical students poking around at my living (more like dying, since blood is gushing out of my chest cavity) anatomy. Shoo, medical students! Go practice on a corpse. I’m not dead yet! I don’t want to tell my story. I want to tell the stories of the people who are dying from medical illnesses, unrelated to the coronavirus, because they don’t want to overwhelm the ERs or because they are scared of being exposed to the virus there. I want to tell the stories of my cousins, who were forced to stay home as their grandmother died from COVID-19 (no visitors in NY hospitals, especially not when the patient has the virus). They can’t even hold a funeral for her. We called her Memee. She emigrated from France. She had one son, my uncle Jacques. She was a kind woman. She didn’t deserve to die like that. Just a few weeks ago, the testing center my mother’s ER sent people to was only open on select days—from 2:00-2:30. I want to tell that story. Or how when I went to Walmart,  20 other people and I shuffled through the only entrance open, since all others were closed in order to promote social distancing. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Thank you, Walmart, you are a beacon of light in these dark, dark times. I will share this: I started a garden. I am currently growing cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, poblano peppers, basil, lettuce. My rosemary died (oops). Recently I had to replant most of them because they were getting too big for their containers. Some of their roots broke, and a few lost leaves in the process. It was scary, but I think they are going to be okay. They will grow strong roots again—that’s just what plants do. I am very proud of my garden.

Natalie Lopez-Durel '20, will attend Boston University this fall
As the honor code prompts me to be, I must be honest. Shortly before we were dismissed due to COVID-19, I was on a major senior slide. Having already been accepted into the college I plan on attending, school became a sort of passive routine. I spent my time in class thinking of senior trip, my last season of crew, and graduation. However, it wasn’t long before reality came and pushed me right out of my daydream. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the chapel listening to Mr. Lepcio announce that we would be leaving campus the following day without any real insight as to when we could return. While a break from my typical routine seemed nice amidst my senior slide, I quickly realized how much I valued my time spent at Baylor. I began missing some of the things I had once dreaded such as morning practices and math class. Now, 51 days since we were last in school, I have found that while I am still sad and longing for the senior year I could have had, I am grateful for the health of my family friends and looking forward to seeing my classmates. For a while, I viewed my senior year as over. It was easy to feel this way seeing as I would no longer be going to campus for my classes and was unsure of whether or not I would experience a real high school graduation. But, now, my friends and I can all look forward to seeing each other, celebrating, and graduating in just a few short weeks. COVID-19 has certainly rocked our worlds, but it has not taken away our senior year nor our places in the Baylor community. 



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