graduation sign for the class of 2024 with the word "COVID" stamped on it in red
Sara Fang/Daily

It was June 2020, and the air was filled with anticipation. Both literally and figuratively. 

My family, which consisted of my mother and my younger siblings, huddled around me on our living room sofa. We all sat in silence, holding in our breaths as we looked through the small screen of my laptop. 


My name was called out as my senior yearbook picture glared through the screen. As I glanced at my name, I heard applause coming from the room as my family congratulated me. While the sounds of applause rung through the room, I saw as my picture left the screen, the rest of my classmates followed. Their bright smiles flashed across the computer. Name after name. Picture after picture. After a long while (since there were about 500 students in my class) the graduation commencement ceremony ended with my high school principal’s final speech for the class of 2020. 

That is how my high school graduation went. 


Like many other students from the class of 2020, our graduation ceremony largely consisted of virtual send-offs. Some of us had the unique opportunity of drive-through ceremonies, which consisted of seniors parading in a trail of cars, where they were at least able to see one another one last time. Yet for the most part, the class of 2020 was robbed of our own graduation because of the pandemic. Thus, the rising class of 2024 was pulled into an unusual start during an uncertain time of their college journey. 

Fast forward to three years later, where the college students of the class of 2023 were given their final send-off. In seeing all the congratulatory posts across social media, and the memory of recent graduates walking proudly across campus, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful and anxious. 

“I hope that I actually have a graduation.”

That was the thought that came bouncing back in thinking about my upcoming senior year — a seemingly foolish thought to be sure. After all, in the three years that have since passed, we’ve returned to a state of “normalcy.” Earlier in May, the World Health Organization officially declared the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and on May 11, 2023, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had put an end to their COVID-19-related epidemic orders. It seems that everyone has moved on, but what about the class of 2024? Have we moved on?  

We missed out on our milestone experiences during our senior year of high school (e.g. prom, graduation, etc.) and then we were whisked from a semi-in person to a fully-virtual first year of college. Festifall, living in the dorms, meeting new people and adjusting to campus life were just some of the experiences that we missed out on as first-year students. While some may argue that these experiences can easily be made up, and are not that “big of a deal,” it doesn’t mean that the class of 2024 hasn’t been impacted in certain ways. How we ended one milestone (high school) and began another (college) may have even influenced certain aspects of our own expectations for both our college experiences and future ones. 

A colleague of mine shared this tweet that I found to be quite interesting and painfully hilarious. It reads, “Five months into 2023 and the class of 2020 still talking about having no prom. HEAL!!!” The comments were even more interesting as the class of 2020 tried to defend themselves: “Every time i ‘heal’ i see ppl going to prom,” and “Like I hope y’all get justice but why must we suffer too.” I found myself thinking, Do people really think we’re making this a big deal? and most importantly, Am I alone in feeling so anxious?

I felt that there were certain aspects of my own high school and college experiences that I missed out on. As a first-generation college student and second-generation immigrant, there were many “firsts” that neither my family or I got to celebrate because of the pandemic. Thus, coming full circle with another senior year, my expectations are a little low. I don’t want to set the bar high in fear of getting let down again. 

I wanted to know if I was the only one that felt this way, and to understand how other students felt. What expectations do students from the class of 2024 have for their senior year, and how have their experiences been with beginning college in such an unusual way? This led me to gain the insights of two students from the class of 2024. Public Health rising senior Daisey Yu, and LSA and Music, Theatre & Dance rising senior Therron Montgomery shared their thoughts and reflections on the upcoming school year and their personal experiences as members of the graduating class of 2020 seniors. 



First and foremost, I was curious to know about the expectations my fellow peers have for our last year at the University of Michigan. Like myself and many others, there is a certain degree of normalcy that we’ve become accustomed to in college. 

“I don’t think senior year will be that much different than the past few years at Michigan,” Yu said as she reflected on her expectations for the next year. “I think graduation will feel more like a community.” 

Daisey explained how her high school graduation consisted of a drive-through car parade with opportunities to take photos with one another (in following strict social distancing regulations). While walking around campus at the end of last semester, Daisey noticed the seniors linking arms with each other and walking happily through the Diag. While there seems to be a hopeful outlook on our expectations, Montgomery echoed my own concern. 

“Honestly, I am just hoping that nothing prevents us from having a graduation again,” she said. 

An Unusual Start and “Reclaiming our Year”

While reflecting on the way we began our college journey, I learned how my experiences were quite similar to Montgomery’s and Yu’s. For the class of 2024, many of us were lucky enough to live on campus for a brief moment before we were whisked away to an all-virtual school year. That was the case for both Montgomery and Yu. 

“I remember enjoying in-person classes because I was able to really engage with the material since I’m in the physical space,” Yu recalled. 

Montgomery also experienced a benefit with this opportunity: “I think that made the transition a bit easier than if I had been completely remote the entire school year because I was able to make some great friends and learn the campus a little better.” Yet the infamous Thanksgiving Break move had a significant effect on all of us. 

Largely, that first semester took a toll on us academically. With Yu, she felt the weight of virtual learning while taking a statistics course during the fall semester. 

“I found it significantly harder to follow the professor on Zoom compared to during class, especially since I had adapted to in-person class,” Yu said. 

With Montgomery, she experienced a drawback that many can relate to, “I missed out on things like Festifall and other social and informative events that hindered me from becoming more involved on campus and making meaningful connections,” she said. 

While this unusual start had brought certain drawbacks to a crucial first semester, both Montgomery and Yu have learned to overcome them. 

“I learned to expect that things will not always go my way,” Yu shared. “After the first undesired result, I should learn from my mistakes and adjust for the next assessment. I carry this lesson and growth mindset over to each semester of college.” 

A growth mindset. A key approach that I believe the class of 2024 has adapted well. 

In regard to our last year, I believe there is certain excitement in “reclaiming our year.” With Yu, she expressed how she’s been quite cautious of attending large gatherings and social events, especially those held by the cultural organizations that she’s interested in. 

“In senior year, I plan to join more of these organizations and become an active member now that I can dedicate more time to events,” she said. 

As for Montgomery, she’d like to experience a “real” graduation. Not only that, Montgomery noted how high school graduation was meant to be a more personal experience as everyone knew each other, and with college it may not be the same. 

To compensate for an extraordinarily unique college experience, Montgomery shared, “I am also hoping to have some kind of graduation trip because I have not been able to travel for so long.”

“Getting Over It”

When I mentioned the tweet that my colleagues shared with me, both Montgomery and Yu had their own insights. 

“I don’t think it’s in my place to tell people to ‘move on’ or ‘get over’ the experiences the class of 2024 had missed out on,” Yu shared. “However, we should acknowledge that the class of 2024 has missed out on an experience due to COVID-19 and have every right to feel the way they do.” 

Yu noted how many high school seniors look forward to graduation because it celebrates the time and effort they put into four years of school; it is a moment that is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. 

“They did not expect to have to wave at teachers and friends from the small windows of their cars,” she said. 

As for Montgomery, she felt that there are people that have moved on a lot easier and faster than others. 

“At my high school, specifically, the year after we graduated, the administration suggested having some kind of get-together to try to make up for what we missed, but a lot of people didn’t want it because they were ‘over it,’ ” she said. 

In referencing the tweet, Montgomery emphasized how it’s not just prom. 

“It’s everything that we missed out on compounded, (e.g. prom, graduation, senior ditch day, senior year trip, etc.),” she said. “All of that makes a difference.” 

She added, “Personally, I would say at this point, at a high level, I have moved on because what else can we do?” 


The Class of 2024 is Pretty Resilient

After hearing Yu’s and Montgomery’s reflections, I was surprised to find similarities in our shared experiences. All three of us shared similar struggles, especially that first tumultuous semester of college. The class of 2024 has been impacted in various ways. Some of us have built protective walls around ourselves, and even become cautious of how we interact with people because of the pandemic. Then there are those of us who have completely rehabilitated ourselves and moved on from this peculiar beginning. Like Yu, I’ve restricted myself from being more involved on campus, a fault in which I hold deep regret. Like Montgomery, I feel behind in making meaningful connections, which is a critical aspect of everyone’s college career. 

Yet, I can also see that the class of 2024 is adamant in making up for what we’ve lost. We’ve done our best in going through whatever life has thrown at us the past three years, and have done everything we can to move on. If anything, the class of 2024 is pretty resilient, and we are almost near the finish line. No matter how our senior year turns out, I believe that our shared experiences have only made us stronger and more adaptable to change. A particular sentence that struck me and has stayed with me was something that Yu had said earlier in our conversation: “I think graduation will feel more like a community.” A community. That is something that I truly feel for the class of 2024. We are a class that has combined experiences that only exist once in a generation. That is what makes us unique. I hope that our senior year turns out to be great, but in reflecting the experiences of my fellow classmates, I am not so anxious anymore. I believe that we’ll be just fine.

Statement Correspondent Dahika Ahmed can be reached at