This is the final story in a four-part series in which students set to graduate in May reflect on how their final semester at Illinois State University has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Antoin’ Rutledge ’18, who already has a bachelor’s degree in general finance from Illinois State, is earning his MBA. This summer he is set to begin work as a credit analyst in the rotational program at Wintrust Financial in Chicago.

As a final year MBA student here at Illinois State, this last semester has been one full of surprises and changes. There have been a lot of changes not only for the students but also full-time staff. I know specifically for my program and class we have seen it go from full in-person classes, to the newly implemented hybrid-style last semester, to the now 100% online system that was implemented due to the coronavirus. Our class has that unique path in which we all can say we’ve taken every form of an MBA course within less than a year. This is a great example of our group being successful professionals in the making and being able to overcome obstacles as they are thrown at us.

As for myself, I have been slightly affected by the pandemic. I, along with other students, am forced to take my classes from home, and I now have to work from home as well. Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate that I do not have to get dressed up every day, but working from home definitely changes the experience of a graduate assistant working out of the student activities office. I really miss being in the office environment and knowing that I missed out on a lot of events and experiences in my last semester.

The last thing that the pandemic really affected for me was that my spring commencement ceremony was cancelled, as it was for the rest of the 2020 graduates. (The University has moved spring commencement online and offered graduates the opportunity to participate in the next winter commencement.)

This summer I will be starting my full-time role in what was expected to be early July. I am extremely nervous about how stable the environment will be over these next couple of months, and I am hoping that it is safe enough for me to be able to start this next step in person.

Coming out of this pandemic, I am hoping that we all are able to realize the value of these experiences and times spent with our loved ones and friends. The pandemic has caused a lot of changes for a number of us, and we all have handled it in different ways. I hope that everyone is continuing to be successful in their own ways during this time. I am also sorry for anyone who has experienced a loss during this difficult period.

ISU has been very flexible and understanding during this time in my experience. My professors, classmates, and co-workers have all worked to make this a pleasant experience, and I am thankful for that. This last semester was not what any of us has pictured.

As sad as it is to say, my time here at ISU is coming to an end, and I will be a proud two-time alumnus. I will forever be thankful to my professors, classmates, friends, and fraternity brothers (AYA!) that I met here at ISU. Through my undergraduate and graduate program, I have nothing but positive memories.

Keep striving and accomplishing those goals!


For information about commencement, visit the Graduation Services website.