Written by Zoe Manoukian
Well, Roanoke, it’s been a tough year! As my time here comes to a close and I reflect on my college experience, that’s the word that keeps coming to mind—tough.
College is truly a unique time and a time that surely poses trials and tribulations of all shapes and sizes for nearly everyone. Such has been the case throughout the past two semesters, especially. Years of late nights, long hours, and frantic juggling between my school, work, family, and personal life have taught me grit, determination, and drive. I was prepared then to head into the school year strong-willed and set on overcoming the challenges posed by COVID. That is—until I got COVID.
I, unfortunately, was one of the unluckier students to have gotten ill. I spent almost the entirety of my winter break in and out of the hospital, trying and failing to diagnose the persisting GI complications and electrolyte imbalances that COVID brought to me. Five months down the road, I then became one of the unlucky 10% to have faced long-haul complications, and as a result, had to miss approximately one month of class and work.
Trying desperately to remember the grit that I thought I had learned here, I spent about two weeks frantically doing all that I could to make up the month of studying and essay writing that I didn’t do, and that’s when I finally accepted that as important as the drive to succeed is, so too is the ability to slow down and breathe.
I am not thankful by any means to have gotten COVID, but I am thankful for the lessons that it brought me. I am thankful that I am starting to learn how to be gentle and forgiving with myself; I am reminded that every day and every friend is a blessing; and I am hopeful that once I am feeling well, I will never take my health for granted again.
It is still hard for me to accept that I may not get the GPA that I hoped for this semester and frustrating to know that I don’t have the time or energy to celebrate my final weeks of college in the ways that I imagined I would, but every day is a reminder to me that I am glad to be here, glad to love, and glad to be loved in turn.
So, these last four years, this last year, and especially this last month were tough. And while Roanoke taught me that I can also be tough, COVID taught me that I don’t always have to be. With that, I wish peace and health for all students, staff, and faculty, and would implore anyone to find a balance between ambition and permission to slow it all down. Congratulations class of 2021 as well as to the whole student body, and farewell Maroons!