This article is part of The Diamondback’s 2020 Senior Edition. Click here for the rest.
For many college seniors, spring semester is the last hurrah — the time to make some final memories, celebrate college traditions and devise shenanigans with friends.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the University of Maryland’s campus, the class of 2020’s final moments came early, leaving some seniors feeling robbed of certain rites of passage, like swimming in the McKeldin Mall fountain.
From the moment Laurel Evans enrolled at this university, she had anticipated meeting university President Wallace Loh for one reason: “Ever since I was an incoming freshman at orientation, I heard people talk about how if you met President Loh, he would give you a turtle pin,” Evans said.
But in almost four years, she never ran into Loh, leaving her without the little gold token every Terp recognizes. Evans, a senior history major set to graduate in May, was still trying to acquire one of the pins when the campus closed.
Abigail Disman, a senior biology and psychology major, had similar goals — a sort of “bucket list” of things she wanted to do before graduating. Disman said she put off some of the quintessential college experiences in favor of working, school and planning for post-graduate life.
“I guess the first thing would be senior bar crawl — I was really looking forward to that,” Disman said. “Art Attack, I never went to that and I was looking forward to it this year.”
Disman said there were many small Maryland-specific experiences she missed out on, such as eating at Marathon Deli, climbing the rock wall at Eppley Recreation Center and a senior send-off with her cohorts in College Park Scholars.
“Big things are great and stuff … but having smaller things … they really make the memories that last,” she said. “It might be insignificant, but it’s just something throughout the week that brings up your mood.”
While some experiences — like the senior bar crawl — can be repeated or made up for during homecoming weekend, reunions can be harder after graduation when alumni leave the area for work or graduate school. Disman said her senior experiences wouldn’t be the same without her core friend group and would be more difficult to recreate once everyone scattered.
A lot of what senior John Tano values from his time in college doesn’t come from events like spring commencement, which he feels is more of a formality. Instead, he said, he’ll miss partaking in experiences such as basketball games and spending the end of college with friends.
“Usually, I don’t get really tied up in a lot of things. I kind of just look past that and just focus on life in front of me,” said Tano, an information systems and operations management and business analytics major. “A lot of my friends are juniors … since I’m graduating early, all my friends are still going to be on campus.”
Despite the chaos that cut his final year at this university short, Tano still hopes to salvage his final moments as a Terp by returning to College Park in the fall.
“I don’t think my time in Maryland is over just yet,” he said