By Robert Drinkwater
College seniors plans for the future have been altered by a great deal due to COVID-19. Classes are now online and for many seniors, their futures are uncertain. I had the pleasure of talking to a few English majors who are graduating this semester. Jacob Pilgrim, Andrea Swiedom and Vanessa Brown discussed their thoughts on the English degree as well as their plans for the future through email and Zoom.
- What are your thoughts on your degree?
I like the English degree a lot. Looking back, I also really enjoyed going through the process of getting it. I think that the English degree can be super versatile in its application after graduation. I think having a degree in English also gives you a very versatile skill set. It has taught me how to read more critically and think more abstractly. This degree has its hand in many other areas, too. Literature, philosophy, art, music, etc. To me, these areas all seem super applicable to each other and I think this degree has only pulled me deeper into these things.
2. What are your plans for after you graduate?
My plan right now is to keep working in construction for about a year or so. After that, I will have hopefully found a job that brings me into a field where I can put my degree to use. Maybe I’ll try to get my master’s degree in the future. I guess whatever I end up doing, I just want to keep writing.
3. How has the pandemic affected your plans for your future?
It has made every plan a little more uncertain, that’s for sure. I am lucky that I am able to work for a good company, where we will be able to work safely despite the virus. I think the pandemic affected the end of my school year more than my life after graduation. I was excited for Symposium and a May term course that I was lucky to be a part of. So, it was disappointing that these things were shut down. I think we are all disappointed that school ended so abruptly. But, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and find the positive in the situation, whatever that may be.
- For me, pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing and English was simply a way of doing what I love for the past three years, reading and writing. Practically speaking, I am hoping the degree will make me a more marketable candidate for jobs. But as of now, my degree is a whirlwind of memories, growing pains and perspective shifts.
2. The short answer is, I don’t know. If there is not another viral outbreak in the Fall, I would like to move out of Maine and look for work in Santa Fe, New Mexico working in some type of creative capacity that incorporates writing. I want to take some time off from school, delve deeper into some of my personal writing projects and figure out what I want to pursue next.
3. In many ways, this pandemic has made “planning” feel utterly impossible. For the past year, my goal has been to leave Maine the second I was done with school. Now, I am considering staying here another year until we have a vaccine or medication to counter COVID-19. Of all the places to be stuck in quarantine, Maine has been pretty sweet. I can still walk in the woods everyday without passing a single person. I don’t want to make any eager moves and be stuck in a major city or a place where I have no friend/family network and face another round of quarantine. Right now, I am trying to adapt my mentality to this new reality and look for opportunities locally that will pay and continue to stretch me as a writer.
- I love my degree, and I think that a lot of it comes from my concentration in my degree. Even though this last semester has moved online, I’m still working on things that I’m interested in in English. More specifically, I’m a TA for the Hip Hop class, so I’m working on a paper that tailors to my interests of contemporary art and music. I’m staying positive through all of this madness, even with all of this uncertainty, I’m certain the fact that I know what I’m interested in. I know what I want to continue to learn and educate myself about within this degree.
2. I plan on moving back home and taking a gap year before I decide on graduate school. A lot of my decision came from the fact that I didn’t want to jump into a program that I didn’t feel comfortable about or that I couldn’t incorporate what I wanted to do in it. So, I wanted to take time in a gap year to really explore my options to find the best fit for me and to expand more on things that I’m interested in.
3. I think that the biggest thing for me has really been financial trouble. It was difficult figuring out what to do job wise, and I was worried about how my grad school application would be affected. It’s affected me more now because I’ve been so stressed about everything. I think that once I’ve graduated I’ll be more at ease. It’s affected me emotionally, but mentally I still have the mindset of if I can do the things that I need to do the things that I’m passionate about and hold on through it, then I can still make it to the finish line and I’m still going to be able to do the things I have to do. I have to keep the mindset of it’s not the end of the world and I have to do what I have to do in order to make sure that not only myself, but the other people in my graduating class all succeed in time.
As of right now, Commencement for the UMF class of 2020 will be held on August 22.