It started out as a whisper.

Students saying they had heard of colleges shuttering because of this novel coronavirus  Then, one by one, our institutions began closing and colleges — and college students — began looking for answers.

It was another day at my internship in the SUNY Oswego Office of Alumni Relations, where I had been working as the senior class public relations coordinator. When the mass email arrived informing me I would be homebound for the rest of the semester, I immediately called my best friend. She was crying — “How can they do this?”

Then the serious questions started. What will happen to my classes? Do I still have my internship? Will I still be an RA? And most importantly, what about graduation?

In the seven weeks since, life has completely changed. I now wake up in my childhood bedroom, wear a mask if I leave my house and I became an aunt. My only sibling and his wife welcomed their first child in early April. Luckily, everyone is healthy but they live in Ohio. My parents have only seen their new grandbaby through a phone screen. Not being able to see my beautiful little niece makes my heart hurt. We FaceTime almost every night but it can’t compare to actually holding her. Every night she uses the blanket I crocheted for her. It’s not the same, but it makes me feel more connected. My family’s barn also burned down in early April — perhaps you saw in this newspaper. Life has been, in a word, insane.

The professors at SUNY Oswego have tried their best to give the students all the help they need. Online learning is fine, but cannot compare to face-to-face classes. I have learned how to use different apps and websites right along with my professors.

I have learned an enhanced sense of accountability. In college, you have to be on top of everything all the time. When we went online, classes became optional. Syllabi were changed, assignments added, papers added, tests taken away and still a final grade needed.

Sadly, many things I have been looking forward to have been postponed or canceled.  The Student Involvement Awards are canceled for this year. I finally made it into the Communication Studies Honor Society but the induction ceremony is postponed. This was particularly upsetting, because I have always been a solid B student. During college I applied myself and had a lot of long nights to get my GPA higher. The Honor Society was a goal since my sophomore year and I finally achieved it — only to be denied the induction ceremony. Most importantly, making typical but lasting senior memories with my best friends is not longer possible.

We can’t hang out after class, go on midnight runs to McDonald’s, take weekend adventures or even hug each other goodbye when we leave for the “adult” world.

With all of these negatives, as always, there is a silver lining. My best friend and I talk on the phone at least twice a day and we are closer than ever. I spend every day watching movies and cooking with my parents, making memories I will look back fondly on. I have increased my work ethic and learned more about what I want to do.

Most importantly, we just found out that SUNY Oswego will be holding a virtual graduation on May 16. In March when life changed, I thought everything was going downhill. I have come to realize that everything happens for a reason, even though I do not quite understand it yet. You have to keep going, hope for the best and plan for the future.

Alexis Bowering is an Oswego County native and SUNY Oswego senior.

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