This is the first story in a series in which students set to graduate in December reflect on how their final semester at Illinois State University has been impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Hillary Campos ’19, who already has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies-organizational/leadership communication, is earning her master’s degree from the School of Communication.

I must say that my last semester as a graduate student has been quite the rollercoaster, as I am sure similar experiences have been had by other graduates. This year, the entire world has endured countless events that will go down in history, and by now, it is evident that we are all living through a major turning point in history, one that will be analyzed for years to come.

Various changes have been made since COVID-19 initially hit ISU’s campus to the point where all of my classes were held online. Although I am grateful for all the hard work ISU’s administrators, faculty, and staff have spent preparing to ensure us students have the best possible education and experience, I am saddened by the fact that it could not be in person this semester. One truly does not know what they have until it is gone. I can only hope that future Redbirds are soon able to have face-to-face learning once more, as it was an incredible experience to foster learning in a physical setting with fellow colleagues, professors, and friends prior to the pandemic outbreak.

Thankfully, I have already graduated from ISU with a bachelor’s degree and I have been able to experience what it feels like to walk across that stage. However, I can’t help but feel sorrowful for those who have not been able to have that experience. Although this situation is not ideal, one also must remember that the university is looking out for our best interest as I know that it is for our protection and will better us in the long run.

There isn’t a lot I can say to make the situation better, but even though many ceremonies and events have been canceled or postponed, it is important to remember that nothing can take away all that we as ISU graduates have accomplished throughout our time as students of this university! These feelings of disappointment and despair are completely normal but won’t last forever.

When (yes WHEN) the pandemic is over, I know that we will all see the value, benefit, and importance of being able to gain experiences and make memories with friends and family. We have all been affected by this pandemic in some way, and we have all coped with it differently. I know that each of us Redbirds has the ability to come out on top of this!

I wanted to thank the faculty within the School of Communication, as they have been more than understanding and flexible during this difficult period. I also wanted to thank everyone in University Housing Services, especially my supervisor, Dr. Jamie Neville, as he, along with everyone else in the department, has been extremely helpful and kind during my time as a graduate assistant.

As for my future endeavors, I hope to get a position within a corporate communication setting, where I can put my knowledge to good use. I know that as a two-time ISU alum, I have the resources at my fingertips.

Don’t forget to have hope during this time!


For information about commencement, visit the Graduation Services website.