Navigating post-grad life during a pandemic

Amani Sapp, a FAMU graduate, has been navigating post-grad life amid the pandemic. Photo courtesy Sapp

The pandemic has caused a lot of impromptu changes during the past nine months as the country tries to limit the spread, but still celebrate life’s joyful moments.

One of those moments is graduation. For Amani Sapp, a Florida A&M University alumna, it hurt to not be able to walk across the stage and receive her diploma during the summer of 2020. 

“Graduating college was one of the biggest milestones of my life. After all that I had learned and gone through I did sort of need that closure with being able to shake hands with my dean and the president just to feel like it was truly over,” Sapp said.

The guidelines haven’t permitted graduations to take place in full scale and Zoom graduations have become a popular alternative, although Sapp believes they don’t substitute for the real thing.

“I understand the state of the world, but I can say that I didn’t truly celebrate my graduation. I didn’t get to celebrate how I felt that I truly deserved to and feel snubbed in a way,” she said.

For many the post-graduation life is already a difficult one to maneuver. As a recent graduate of Florida A&M University, Roshunda Guilford can attest to how hard post-grad life can be. Guilford believes that college never truly prepares you for life once it’s over.

“I can say that the biggest take away is to trust in yourself. You have to depend on yourself during this time more than anything. Post-grad throws you into adulthood in a way that college doesn’t truly prepare you for,” Guilford said.  

In the midst of a pandemic, Sapp has had a unique experience that wasn’t anticipated.

After graduating, Sapp moved back to her hometown of Jacksonville where she began to substitute teach in the local school district.

“I love kids, but I never really considered teaching early on in my college career. Before I was about to graduate, I felt that this would be a good alternative route when it came to me going back and getting my master’s and Ph.D.”

Entering a job field that didn’t pertain to her major as well as tackling a position that had become more difficult to navigate as the classroom climate abruptly changed, Sapp feels optimistic about how her new job will impact her future studies. 

“Even though my job doesn’t exactly relate to my degree I feel that it still is building a good foundation. When I go back to school, I want to be a clinical pediatric psychologist, with a PHD in psychology. So, being a sub is allowing me to interact with children at different grade levels and see what could cause different mental illnesses. I feel confident that this is a good fit for me right now until I go back to school,” Sapp said.

Dallas Jackson, an alum of North Carolina A&T University and longtime friend of Sapp’s, applauds her outlook during this tough time in history as well as her life.

“As far as stress goes it feels like it has just moved around to a different aspect of your life. The school stress shifts to just general life stress and increases. Coming back home you don’t have to pay rent, but your mental health does pay the cost. I think Amani has a very unique way of looking at post-grad life given that the pandemic has made the job market even harder to break into.”

Sapp is staying positive as she continues to work toward her goal of moving to South Korea for the next couple years as she continues teaching before she begins applying to graduate school.