New graduates struggle during pandemic

CASS Front yard: “Center for Advancement and Student Success.” Photo courtesy Famu Forward

COVID-19 has threatened to overwhelm the world by shutting down businesses, closing schools and ruining opportunities. During this time graduating students have been put in a tight spot by being pushed out into the workforce at a time in which opportunities have decreased and much of the world has come to a pause.

On March 14, Leon County students were sent on what seemed to be an extended spring break due to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. However, the temporary break extended into the rest of the spring 2020 semester causing large gatherings of 100 people or more to be prohibited. Schools transitioned into online, remote courses in order to adhere to these guidelines advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During this time of social distancing virtual graduations were being held as graduating seniors prepared themselves to enter a workforce that seemed as if it had regressed.

Jamesha English, a summer 2020 Florida A&M University graduate, says COVID-19 had affected her graduation process.

“On Aug. 1, I woke up and watched my name pop up on a prerecorded slideshow. I get sad when I think about it because I will never get to experience what it is like to graduate from an HBCU for myself,” English said.

According to The Washington Post, in the month of May 21 million people remained out of work as the unemployment rate skyrocket from 4 to 14.7 percent.

The effects of a statewide lockdown caused businesses to see a decrease in sales for an extended period, forcing business to lay off their employees in order to stay afloat.

Maurice Wallace, a spring 2020 FAMU graduate, has been directly affected by these adversaries.

“My world was crashing down before my eyes and I could not do anything about it … Internships were lost and an organization a few peers and myself brought to FAMU was not able to take off like we hoped,” Wallace said.

FAMU advancement staff continued to help students stay on the path of graduation and post-graduation success. Events such as career expos and job interest meetings transitioned to virtual events hosted through Zoom, where students were still able to engage with employers on various job opportunities.

Assistant Vice President of Alumni Affairs/University Engagement Carmen Cummings, said COVID-19 has affected job opportunities and connections with alumni in professions across the country.

“One of the things we have been working on is bolstering our alumni platform so that we can go about turning out as much information as we can to recent graduates … the pandemic seems that it is going to be the new norm and we are going to have to acclimate to it,” Cummings said.