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Mark Murdoch (left) at the County Line Orchard in Indiana

Mark Murdoch (left) at the County Line Orchard in Indiana

In their words: Mark Murdoch reflects on graduating during the coronavirus pandemic

This is the third 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. Mark Murdoch is earning a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science. He has accepted a job at Pinnacle Actuarial Resources in Bloomington.

My senior year at ISU was definitely nontraditional. During the fall semester, I actually ended up spending the semester at home and dropping my in-person classes due to some personal reasons. I worked with my professors and was able to do some of my classes online. As a result, I was still able to graduate on time this semester with both my major and minor.

I remember finding out about the spring break extension and courses moving online after the break ended. Since I spent most of the first half of my break studying for a professional exam, I was happy to have a little extra time to enjoy. However, even at the time of the initial announcement by President Dietz, I don’t think I really realized the magnitude of the changes that lay ahead.

Being home during the fall semester was not my ideal scenario, but in a way, it prepared me for online classes this semester after the start of the pandemic. Most professors have been pretty understanding of the scenario we are all facing and have been flexible with assignments. As a math major, I tend to like in-person lectures since the subject is very visual. Zoom has been useful in helping in that regard, but it is not the same as face-to-face instruction. In the end, I think learning online teaches us to be adaptable and can serve as a useful skill. Organizations are becoming more and more global and rely on virtual conferences to get business done.

I was very fortunate to have a job secured before the pandemic began. Recruitment for jobs in the insurance industry is done pretty early, especially for actuarial science majors like myself. Though there is no industry that isn’t impacted by the coronavirus in one way or another, the insurance industry is pretty stable in events like these. As of now, my start date at Pinnacle Actuarial Resources in Bloomington is in July, but this could be pushed back depending on when the office opens back up.

Although it saddens me that this is how my college experience is ending, I reflect back on all the enjoyable times I’ve had at ISU. From starting off as a freshman where I met some of my closest friends in the dorms to having leadership roles for different RSOs, ISU has provided me with an abundance of opportunities and memories that I will never forget.

I am pleased with how ISU has handled commencement arrangements and that spring grads will be able to walk with the winter grads. Since I am working in the Bloomington-Normal area after graduation, I am planning on attending the winter commencement ceremony.

For information about commencement, visit the Graduation Services website.