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. Over the course of the next two weeks, we are highlighting high school graduates across King County. These seniors 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!
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?
My mother is a researcher at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, and she is currently working on a COVID study. It’s been hard for her to do so, since she is having to work from home and communicate with the limited number of people who can be in the lab. My dad is working from home as well, since he retired from the Seattle Public library the week they shut down. Minus my brother who is staying with his girlfriend’s family, dealing with everyone being at home all of the time is hard. Since we can’t really escape anywhere that isn’t out on a walk, we are taking more time than we usually do to understand each other and how we are feeling.
The hardest personal challenge that I have experienced is having to deal with constant stress and exhaustion because of the pandemic. It is very hard to focus on schoolwork, when the constant horror and sadness of our current situation has left me with a feeling of hopelessness and exhaustion (why is believing a disease is deadly a political issue?) and it makes me feel upset with myself if I am not productive. Even if I finish a piece of homework and send an email, I end up taking a little break because I feel tired.
How will you be celebrating graduation this year and marking this big milestone?
We are organizing a zoom call with family and friends, since my graduation has been canceled.
A family friend of ours took my senior pictures, and physical as well as digital graduation announcements are being sent out to people we know. Another marker of my graduation milestone is the fact that I got to decorate my graduation cap. After thinking about it for a while, I settled on the Kermit the Frog quote “Rainbows Have Nothing to Hide”, since I am a giant Jim Henson fan, and I am proud of my bisexuality. My mom also made a lei out of rainbow ribbon to celebrate my graduation.
What are your plans for after you graduate?
I am planning to go to Shoreline Community College, and then transfer and go to University of Washington, where I will finish out my education and get a degree in communications. The reason why I want to get a communications degree is because I want to become an event planner. My hope is that I will end up working for comic conventions because I love people being able to have a place to share mutual interests and passions. Alongside my college career, I want to continue volunteering within my community wherever I can.
What about the coronavirus pandemic has made you feel proud, supported, or hopeful?
Lambert House has done an enormous amount of work to support LGBTQ+ youth since their building is closed. It is very nice to be able to talk to other LGBTQ+ youth like me, and share how we are feeling during this whole thing. It makes me proud that people everywhere are trying to make things work right now, since we need to feel hope somewhere.
My parents have also been incredibly supportive of the fact that we are living in a very stressful, traumatic, and tiring time. We talk about how we are feeling, and try and still do things together as a family.
What is your message to other people your age at this time?
Self-care is essential right now. Whatever makes you feel better. That can be anything ranging from learning a new language, to watching a movie that you have seen a dozen times (it doesn’t even have to be a good one!). Understand that you don’t have to be productive all of the time. It will get exhausting trying to do things, and that is okay.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
In this pandemic, there are a lot of people putting their lives on the line. They should be paid better for the work, and should have better protections not only during the pandemic but after it ends as well.
Thank you and congratulations, Sam! May you enjoy lots of self-care before comic conventions begin again!
Earlier graduation highlights include: