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Then and now: presenting the class of legends

On this day, 2 years ago, I checked off box number one of my goals---I graduated college. Today, graduation looks very different for the class of 2020.

Photo Credit: Tracey Eaton

It was such a perfect sunny Florida day and I was feeling all sorts of emotions at once. It was a HUGE day for me. I was finally obtaining something no one could ever take from me even if they tried, and that was an education.

My head was filled with justifiable pride for what I had accomplished, all the gratitude in the world for my support system and overjoyed eagerness for what exciting opportunities lied ahead and--- suddenly, my name, "Courtney Michelle Cox."

As Flagler College President Joyner shook my hand and I received my diploma, I felt the whole world start to come together for me all at once. I saw my family clapping, I heard my Poppy yell my name in excitement, I glided off the stage in my over-sized black gown and my face hurt from smiling so much.

Now, it's 2020. I have a job that I enjoy...but like most jobs, it's on hold for now because of COVID-19. And while it's been on hold and I've moved back in with my parents to quarantine and social distance with, I've had a lot of time to think and remember moments like my graduation day.

It pains me to think that the class of 2020 may never get to experience that overjoyed feeling of waiting in anticipation for their names to be called, or lookout to the crowd to see their family's standout. Those little moments, although little, they're the parts I cherished the most.

But, before you begin to feel down, listen here my fellow quarantiners, even though there may be no physical stage walk, know this: YOU EARNED THIS GRADUATION DAY! That's right, YOU EARNED IT! I wish I could give you the satisfaction of standing in line in your gowns with your friends, but unfortunately the risk of your health and the health of those around you is as risk.

Creativity is key in times like these and even though video calls aren't the same as in person, and the cap and gown might not feel as good on in your living room, remember this--- it is your day, this is your story and you are a big part of history---- not just at your school or in your country, but in the entire world.

Your courage to finish the semester in a way no one has done before is legendary, your self-discipline to log into class on time is admirable, your honest self-expression is valued, your ability to overcome adversity and power through the studying when the weight of the world is crashing down on you is heroic and your continuous ambition to come out of this ready to work and live up to the dreams that you have for yourself is a force to be reckoned with.

You should be so proud of yourself. I know, the journey was long and you've waited for this day to come. I'm sorry it's not exactly the day you had envisioned, but it's still your day and it's still an education you get to walk away with.

Class of 2020, you are brave, bold and beautiful and the world will be yours when it's ready again. Congratulations Class of 2020, you are an inspiration.

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