She was leaving her last waitressing shift at Max Brenner and stopped at Earls Kitchen and Bar for a drink. It was while she was there when she heard Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement that restaurants must reduce to 50 percent capacity.
“I think that’s when it really hit me that everything was getting really serious,” Zoe Beard, a senior in the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, said.
Four days later, without a job and with classes moved online, Beard made the decision to drive back home to Colorado, dodging state stay-at-home orders by mere hours, she said.
“That was the second wave of, ‘Oh crap, this is the end of my senior year,’” Beard said. “This is how we’re going to end.”
BU’s incoming and graduating students were crossing stages to “pomp and circumstance” this spring, with BU either in hindsight or foresight. But this is now only a romanticized vision as the future fills with uncertainty.
Genesis Velasco, who is planning to study health sciences at BU in the fall, said she feels anxious about the uncertainties in the plan for the future. With open house and orientation programs moved online and not having visited campus before, she said it will be harder to be left on her own on campus in September.
“It puts more pressure on me to speed through that process as soon as you get to campus,” Velasco said. “It makes you feel in a sense more lonely once you get to campus since you don’t know where everything is and who people are.”
After having spent her senior year working hard in school and applying to colleges, Velasco said she had been looking forward to taking the summer to relax and focus on her relationships at home.
“I know everybody talks about the magical moment between your senior year of high school and your freshman year of college,” Velasco said. “They’ve already said their goodbyes, they’ve officially ended their high school chapter… they’ve had all the fun that they wanted to have.”
Velasco said she feels disappointed in losing the sense of closure that high school seniors usually feel before beginning a new life chapter.
“For four years, you have this expectation that you’re going to go to graduation and prom… you’ll be able to be commended for all your efforts,” Velasco said. “All of the senior activities are supposed to be like a closing to this chapter.”
Sara Goldman, a senior in CAS, said she had planned to teach English in France next year and hasn’t made alternative plans yet. She said she was looking forward to enjoying her last spring semester and end-of-year activities.
“Obviously, I’m ending my senior year at home, and I think it’s really surreal and weird that I’m going to be done with class… and it’ll just be another day in quarantine,” Goldman said. “Enjoying the fact that it’s ending and I worked really hard — I think it’s that sense of what I was missing out on.”
Goldman said that she kept working at Pure Barre during Spring Recess, where she said they increased their cleaning techniques, but she hadn’t yet realized the extent of the coronavirus. She came home to Pennsylvania the following week and realized the severity of the pandemic.
“It really hit me after school got canceled that this was a problem,” Goldman said. “I continued going to my shifts at work but I got a lot more stressed about [working and] my hands were super dry from cleaning everything.”
Marshall Brown, who is planning to study journalism at BU in the fall, said he accepts that things might not go as planned, but still feels hopeful for the future and is excited to immerse himself in the BU community whether living on campus or remaining at home.
“I was looking forward to more so being on my own and dedicating all of my time exploring new things, learning new things and not really being tied down by much,” Brown said. “Being able to meet new people and expand my horizons, that might be put on hold with [coronavirus], but I hope that that can still happen.”
Brown said he feels bad for college seniors who are missing out on their final events and academics and graduating into difficult circumstances.
“I think college seniors have it a lot worse because we have our college years as a buffer to wait for the economy to get better but they’re expected to just go out there,” Brown said. “And all of the things that would close off the end of that senior year… it’s probably totally messed up by this.”
The stage of life that both high school and college seniors are currently in is the biggest time in their lives thus far, Beard said. But she said that, uncertainties for the future aside, it is important to remember that this is just one moment.
“If you step back and think about it, there’s going to be other big moments and that’s one of the things that’s helping me through [this],” Beard said. “Yes [graduation] is a big one that we’re missing out on and is dramatically altered, but at the same time, we’re going to move forward and we’re going to get through it and things are going to return to some semblance of normalcy.”