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SURIANO: Despite our lack of commencement, seniors should be proud


Column: A RINO's View

Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.
Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.

In March, when in-person classes were canceled, I admit I thought I would be back at Rutgers by the end of the semester. 

There was still so much going on, and I was down right excited because one of my last midterms was delayed. I planned on enjoying the men’s basketball team in the Big Ten Championship and March Madness. 

The reality and the gravity of the situation began to set in on March 11 when National Basketball Association (NBA) star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the NBA shut down, actor Tom Hanks tested positive and President Donald J. Trump announced on national television he was shutting down travel from Europe

The news on that night was coming so fast that many people, including myself, realized the severity of COVID-19. The next day the men’s basketball season ended while they were warming up for their first Big Ten tournament game. 

Over the next few days and weeks, it became clear that there would be no graduation ceremonies for seniors like me. This is a depressing reality of the times in which we live. Now, this is nothing compared to the suffering of those who lost loved ones or lost their jobs. But it is alright to be sad about the commencement being canceled. But one should be able to take solace in our accomplishments, and hopefully this column will provide some solace. 

It is less so the actual event, which is long, hot and chaotic, but instead the time spent with your friends in those senior days. As seniors, we still had a month to make more memories, but that was taken from us. Most of us seniors will never walk the campus as students again. We will never walk into a class as undergraduates and enjoy the simple pleasures of education. Many of our friends will never live in the same place again. 

This is why there is a sadness to this whole affair. It is fundamentally unfair, but life is unfair. That is no reason to get down about it.

It is easy to be cynical about the present or even the future, but there is no need to feel depressed about the end of our college careers. As seniors, our college careers have been filled with a lot of excitement and a lot of hard work. As freshmen, we saw the election of Trump and many of us became engaged in politics for the first time. Not me, of course. I was already a hopeless political nerd.

Others made the choice not to care about politics, and some look down on this. I do not. We live in a free country and have to choose to engage or not engage. Over our four years, we have put in countless hours studying and working. There were hard times, of course. Many got heartbreaking grades, and watching the football team over the past four years has been akin to slow-motion torture. 

But, with the good and the bad, we have made it together. This is truly an accomplishment, and just because there will be less pomp and circumstance this year does not mean we should not be proud. The facts are that all things come to an end, and some faster and with less warning than others. Again, it is okay to be sad, but as in many things, it is better to look for the good in a situation.

This is my last column I will ever write for the esteemed The Daily Targum. It has been the pleasure of my life to be allowed to write. To have my unhinged rantings printed in a newspaper and read by people. It may well be the last published writing I ever do and that is the beauty of college. 

You can try to do things you never would have done before. Some people will make a career of a thing they try, and others will make a lifelong hobby of it. Rutgers is a magical place where people come together and meet other folks from all over the globe and every part of the country. 

It may seem like an end, but in fact our lives and careers are just beginning. Some of us, specifically the nursing school, have already been thrown out of the pan into the fire. But all of us are stepping out into the world and have to make it on our own. This is of course not true: We have the friends we made here, we have the professors who took us under our wing, we have the knowledge we have acquired. 

So, as you are studying for your last finals as an undergraduate, think over what you have already accomplished and what you are about to, and be proud.

Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.

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*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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