This is the second 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. Maria Villalobos is earning a master’s degree in college student personnel administration. This summer she will begin working as a career services coordinator at Florida International University.

As a second-year graduate student at Illinois State University, I can confidently say that the end of our college career has been nothing like what we were expecting it to be. These past few months have been met with a lot of uncertainty and fear as we don’t know what the future holds anymore. With so much changing every single day, it is hard to plan for a future that holds so much uncertainty.

As a young professional entering the job market, I feel a lot of anxiety as to what the next few months are going to look like. Starting a new job during a pandemic is not something any of us wish for, but I know that my professors have done everything in their power to prepare me for the future, and I also know that everyone at Illinois State University is rooting for me to succeed. I am extremely grateful for all the administrators, co-workers, and professors who’ve made this situation a bit easier.

These past few weeks I’ve felt a newfound appreciation toward Illinois State University, and especially toward those who work for the University. Professors have been constantly making sure that I am doing OK and have gracefully switched their entire lessons online. I am also extremely grateful for all the administrators who are working tirelessly to ensure that students are well taken care of, and who have found new ways to interact with students and each other. I really appreciate how flexible everyone has been during this difficult time, and how we’ve all found new ways to help one another.

To me, this goes to show how tight of a community ISU is, and how we truly are all in this together. This situation has shown me why I love ISU, and how much ISU employees care about our students’ success and well-being. As a graduate assistant in the Dean of Students Office, I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing individuals who are working tirelessly to ensure that students still have a positive learning experience and enjoy the last few months of this semester. I hope to do the same as I continue my professional journey in the field of student affairs.

In a few weeks, I will be starting my new job, and I hope to continue to live my passion for helping students reach their dreams and overcome barriers within the higher education system. I will never forget my time here at ISU and will cherish the memories I’ve made forever.

Go, you Redbirds!

For information about commencement, visit the Graduation Services website.