opinion

OPINION: While graduation wasn't what I expected, I'm still grateful



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Kailyn Hilycord poses for a photo near the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, France. Courtesy Photo

For the class of 2020, graduation resembles nothing like what we pictured at the beginning of the academic year. Even though students have to celebrate remotely and graduation ceremonies are online it does not mean that we cannot recognize our accomplishments with peers and loved ones. 

The coronavirus ruined plans for graduating classes across the globe by postponing or canceling commencements, or even transforming them into virtual celebrations.

We should use our platforms to celebrate others and ourselves now more than ever, particularly during this distressing time where we need to celebrate the big and the small things. It is especially my duty as a journalist and fellow student to influence others to use their connections and platforms to commemorate one another.

There are several institutions and individuals that I would love to thank in hope that others find them just as beneficial as I did.

First is the Groups Scholars Program. Since its inception in 1968, the program has supported underrepresented, first-generation students with academic, social and financial resources for them to achieve their potential and earn a bachelor’s degree.

The program involves a summer term of classes before the student’s freshman year at IU. It provides structure for the students, academic advising and tutoring and social events that influence growth and preparation for college academia before the fall when an overwhelming thousands of students flood onto campus.

Without this program, I would not be where I am today.

Staff such as Associate Director Samuel R. Young II, Director Mary Stephenson, Zilia Balkansky-Sellés, who was an academic advisor but is now the Extracurricular Coordinator for the Hutton Honors College, and English department Lecturer L. Anne Delgado had such a profound effect on my undergraduate experience. Because of them, and the program itself, I am a more responsible, motivated, considerate, empathetic, passionate and punctual individual.

My first major was English, and I was fortunate to start and end my time at IU with this department. The faculty provided the enthusiasm, relevance, articulation and support that I hope to give to my own peers, fellow journalists and possible students some day.

They also emphasized the importance of words, heart, history and education. These teachings will remain with me as long as I am able to write.

Along with this, I added a certificate in Rock & Roll History. Yes, you read that correctly. The Jacobs School of Music has a beloved, highly underrated music history department, which contains some of the most valuable courses and faculty that the university has to offer. 

Professor Glenn Gass and Senior Lecturer Andrew Hollinden, educators that should be praised more often, provide courses on subjects such as the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and do so with the passion and care that every educator should have. 

Their attitudes, free spirits and zeal struck me as soon as I sat down in their classrooms and have forever changed my appreciation, love and awareness of music and the world.

Shortly after my arrival at IU, my interests lead to adding journalism as my second major. The Media School deserves more credit than it is given. The facilities, equipment, staff and faculty provide such resources, expertise and guidance that students are bound to succeed and grow. 

I found that the teachings, and drives of several faculty have and will influence me throughout my studies and career. 

All three institutions ignite ardor, open potential and bring forth much needed awareness of the world, people and opportunities around us.

Education, and the success, trials and errors that encompass it, can still be celebrated this year. The time for gratitude, self-appreciation and celebration is now. As long as we have ourselves and communication, that is enough.

This is a time to be more grateful for what we had, and what we have now. If one good thing comes out of the pandemic, let it be recognizing growth, gratitude and self-love.

Kailyn Hilycord (she/her) is a senior studying journalism, English and music. She plans to pursue graduate studies in journalism.

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