For so many of us, part of the American Dream is going to college; it’s a rite of passage, of sorts. If you grew up in a household like mine, basically, there were two options for your future: college or the military. My mother raised five children all on her own and every single one of us either went to college or the military – or both! My mother, like countless other parents, never had the opportunity to go to college- she was one of nine siblings and they were all single-handedly raised by her father. Her dad simply couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them all and send them to college too. The fact that my mom didn’t get to go to college, was her motivation for sending us; like many American families, she wanted a better life for her children, and a college education held that promise.

I went away to college and it was an exhilarating experience. College is where I gained my independence and my first taste of freedom. I was responsible for myself and made my own decisions. I learned first-hand that my actions had consequences.   College taught me how to navigate the larger world and people from different walks of life. And college was liberating for me in so many ways too. I was awkward and sheltered growing up. I blossomed in college; I learned to be more comfortable in social settings and that gave my self-esteem and self-confidence a big boost. Undoubtedly, everyone’s experience of college is different. My oldest son and the other students of color on campus faced racist threats while away at college his freshman year that made national news. On the flip side of that experience, he also made life-long friends while at college.

And now, it’s the class of 2020’s turn to head to college. Like many before them, with great anticipation, they’ve worked and waited for this moment. They’ve gone on college tours and carefully selected their top school of choice. They’ve declared a major – or not… They may have even determined which fraternity, sorority, or other social clubs they want to pledge their time and talents to. The one thing that threatens to upset the apple cart is COVID-19.   College life, in the traditional sense, won’t be the same come this fall. Will students be expected to practice social distancing in the cafeteria and at campus social functions? Will all of their classes be virtual? Will they be permitted to reside in the dorms? The answers to many of these questions are currently unclear; college administrators are working fast and furiously to work through these issues and provide a safe, yet richly rewarding college experience for the incoming students. And while their experience of college won’t be the same as any of ours in the traditional sense, they will have a college experience.

For sure, they will face uncertainties. They will learn to navigate the world in spite of COVID-19. They will meet new and interesting people and explore new friendships. They will study themselves to be approved and worthy of a degree. And with all of the courage of their convictions, the class of 2020 will make the best of this unique experience and come out victorious!

To the class of 2020, we see you and we applaud you!

You are FIERCE!

You are FABULOUS!

You are Phenomenal!

Keep your head to the sky!

CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2020 AND BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!!!!

Written by Dena Chapman

Dena Chapman is a writer, editor and seasoned blogger on a mission to be a voice of strength and tranquility in an otherwise noisy world. When she is not tinkering with words, she can be found busting a ballet move in her home work office. Dena is the proud mother of two young adults, Joshua and Malachi- and her dog, Thor. Contact Dena at msdena01@gmail.com.