London, Ont. post-secondary students reflect on a bittersweet graduation amid COVID-19

Graduating from college or university is an important milestone, but amid the coronavirus pandemic, students are missing out on saying goodbye and celebrating that rite of passage.

On March 13, as the COVID-19 pandemic began, Western University and Fanshawe College announced they were temporarily cancelling classes. In-person classes were later cancelled indefinitely and moved online as the situation evolved, and all graduation ceremonies postponed.

“There were no hugs or people saying congratulations and there were no gowns or caps,” said Jordyn Broomhead, a recent Fanshawe graduate.

Broomhead recently finished a four year bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership at Fanshawe.

Her final project involved interviewing female firefighters in London about what impacted them to go into a male-dominated field. Broomhead tells Global News she was looking forward to those she worked with seeing her final presentation and watching her cross the stage.

She said it was a bit easier for her to finish school at home, but it wasn’t easy not saying goodbye to friends.

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“I dropped off one of my friends in my class at her apartment, and I did not know that was the last time I would see her, and now she is hours away,” she said.

Like many other students, Saunders said the end of in-person classes came as a surprise, and she was little nervous switching to online courses.

“You really have to keep yourself motivated to do it, and I am one of those people, when I am at home, I can get distracted pretty easily.”

Working from home, Saunders said she had to coordinate schedules with her mom, so the two did not interrupt one another.

Now finished classes and with her summer job on hold, Sunders is still holding out hope they will be able to celebrate their achievements.

“I hope the school will be able to have a graduation ceremony in the fall because it would be nice to thank my professors.”

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