June 14, 2020

COVID-19 shortened my senior year, but gave me something else

Nick Alvarez

Rain splattered on asphalt as we pulled into a gas station off Interstate-81 North. I lugged a suitcase out of a trunk and dragged it toward my mom’s car. She wore a mask and I couldn’t hug her. It was the middle of the night. The COVID-19 pandemic had brought cancellations of in-person classes and the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament — which I had just returned from covering before the decision came down. My last college road trip was over. My mom and I drove home and started life in lockdown. For weeks, I didn’t realize what it would mean to graduate via Zoom. I’m the first in my family of Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage to graduate from a U.S.  university, but we couldn’t celebrate together. The pandemic took so much away, but it also gave me something: time at home. My younger brother hadn’t seen me consistently for four years. Now I was able to play basketball in the backyard with him. My dad and I put together deck furniture and played dominoes into the night. And I wrote my last college story as a thank-you letter to previous generations of my family whose hard work paved the way for me to graduate. I asked them about their lives and saw the looks on their faces when they read my words. My time in self-isolation will thankfully be remembered for the new and cherished memories I created.

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