Crossposted from the Best Starts for Kids blog.
Congratulations, Class of 2020! COVID-19 upended your senior year and graduation celebrations. We want to recognize your hard work, perseverance and accomplishments amidst such unique challenges. This is the final highlight in our two week Class of 2020 series. These seniors from all across Kin County participated in either Youthsource or youth development programming supported by Best Starts for Kids. Thank you to the Institute for Community Leadership, Treehouse, Lifewire, Lambert House, Youthsource and Young Women Empowered for empowering our scholars’ dreams! The full series is linked at the end of this blog post.
What challenges have you, your friends and/or family experienced because of COVID-19? Or, what about COVID-19 makes you feel most sad/confused/angry?
I think I speak for most people when I say this has been an incredibly difficult and scary time. Staying home is something that I know almost everyone around me isn’t used to.
Recently, it’s been frustrating trying to convince people that simply because some of the restrictions are being lifted does not mean that COVID-19 has disappeared. It’s still important to stay home if you can.
My heart goes out to the essential workers of our community. My mom, who works at a pharmacy, is one of my biggest supporters and inspirations. I wish that I didn’t have to worry about her health every day.
How will you be celebrating graduation this year and marking this big milestone?
I’m going to be receiving an Associates’s Degree of Arts and Sciences from Bellevue College along with my high school diploma this year. Interlake, my high school, has been incredible about making this process as easy-to-navigate as possible. Our class decided on postponing the graduation ceremony to December, but there will be some virtual celebration as well. Bellevue College will be having a virtual commencement, and although not ideal, I’m still very excited.
Aside from formal celebrations, I will probably blow up some balloons, order food in, and celebrate over Facetime or Zoom with some friends and family. Virtual graduation parties are the way to go this year!
What are your plans for after you graduate?
I’ll be attending the University of Washington in Seattle this fall. I’m going to be working towards an engineering degree and also participating in the honors program. I hope to continue advocating for gender-based violence victims and survivors, community organizing, and social justice work throughout my years at UW.
What about the coronavirus pandemic has made you feel proud, supported, or hopeful?
I think the creativity of teenagers everywhere has really had a chance to shine during this time. My friends have done an amazing job lifting each other up and supporting each other through these hard times. The number of video calls, online movie nights, and virtual games that we’ve played together have made the distance feel insignificant.
What is your message to other people your age at this time?
In the midst of the crisis, I want my peers to feel validated in their emotions right now. Yes, there is a lot going on in our world right now. I encourage everyone to do as much as they can whether that means supporting local businesses, donating time or money, spreading awareness, and/or any of the other forms of help we can offer right now. However, it is okay to be disappointed that your expectations for your senior year aren’t unraveling how you expected them to. We are in this together as a community, and just as our physical health is important, our mental health is too. Take time to process the situation and check in with friends. You are valid!
Congratulations, Mina! Thank you for sharing your story with us and best wishes!
Originally published June 25, 2020