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A Letter to the Class of 2020

The College Now team has the honor of working with students during some of the most exciting moments of their lives. From watching joy emerge on a high school senior’s face as they open their first acceptance letter to cheering on college graduates as they walk across the stage, our staff often has a front-row seat in celebrating these hard-earned moments. It is a privilege we do not take for granted.

That’s why, as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues, our hearts go out to all students – particularly high school and college seniors in the class of 2020.

Recently, many of the typical rights-of-passage in young adult lives – prom, graduation, senior traditions, and more – have been uprooted, leaving students disappointed, stressed, and concerned for their futures. As an organization, we understand and empathize with the experiences that students across the world are going through. It can be very difficult to work so hard toward something and to not be able to celebrate in the way you had always imagined. On top of this disappointment, we know that many folks are also occupied with worry over meeting their family’s basic needs and maintaining good health.

We want to remind our students of this: We see you. We hear you. We celebrate you. And we are still right here with you.

To our College Now seniors – both in high school and college – we know many of you have been looking forward to enjoying the rewards of your hard work for quite some time. Perhaps you had your prom attire already picked out, your commencement speech written, or a graduation party already planned. While it is certainly difficult to come to terms with the fact that the end of your high school or college career looks a lot different than you probably anticipated, no one can take away the fact that you have earned the accomplishment of graduating.

Your hard work has not gone wasted. Your dreams are still there for you to chase.

As you go into the final weeks of your schooling, College Now recognizes the many distractions and challenges that you are facing. Perhaps you are helping take care of younger siblings while also trying to complete your schoolwork. Perhaps you’re worried about having access to internet and other utilities. Or maybe you’re concerned about entering an uncertain job market in just a few short weeks.

All these hurdles are not insignificant; however, they are not impossible to overcome. College Now wants to support and encourage you in any ways that we possibly can. Our team is still here to help you navigate this time in your life and to keep you on track toward reaching your goals. Do not give up! We encourage you to take care of yourselves as best as you can and to ask for help while continuing to keep your post-graduation goals in sight.

This is a significant and difficult time in the world, but there will come a time when we begin to talk about this pandemic as a marker in history, and no longer the present. When that time comes, we want you to be prepared to thrive in your postsecondary and career goals.

So, to celebrate you and all the accomplishments you and your classmates have achieved, here are some words of wisdom and congratulations from some of our College Now team:

From Lee Friedman, CEO of College Now Greater Cleveland:

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on your graduation – though I know this isn’t what any of you expected when you began your senior year. College Now is thrilled for you as you move into the next phase of your life, and we know that the resiliency, strength, and adaptability you have shown at the end of this school year will serve you well throughout the rest of your lives. We are honored to have played a part in your education so far and wish you nothing but the best in your futures. We look forward to learning of all your successes.

From Anna, Team Mentor

Congratulations on completing your high school education!  You should feel very proud of your hard work and determination.  Graduating from high school is an important accomplishment, and it is an especially huge feat during such a challenging time.  The perseverance you have shown this semester is a testament to your ability to overcome whatever hurdles you may face.  No matter what comes next, know that you can pursue your dreams.  We wish you all the best for your continued success and look forward to seeing what you accomplish!

From Jasmine, Team Mentor

The long nights, the early days, the finals, and the games… Your mentor, your memories, I hope you hold on to them dearly.

Congratulations to our Seniors who are graduating from college! You are all a part of amazing history, and have managed to persevere during challenging times. You have all worked so hard, and now it’s time to celebrate!  I’m so proud of you all, and I know your mentors are too! You are the reason we’re able to have a successful program. College Now is always here if you need us. I know that you will do amazing things in life, and wish you the best in your future endeavors. Cheers to you all! – Jasmine on behalf of Team Mentor

From Cynthia, Manager of IT and Data Services, who says, “My best words [for this year’s graduating class] are someone else’s:”

It Couldn’t be Done – Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,

     But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

     On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

 

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

     At least no one ever has done it”;

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,

     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

     Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

 

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

     There are thousands to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

     The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

     Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

     That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

From Cathy, Manager, GEAR UP Parma:

Congratulations! You’ve come this far, just remember don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.

From Tonya, Adult Programs Specialist:

2020 Seniors…I admire you.  I admire you not only for what you have been through but for the way you have handled yourselves during this most difficult time.  No one expected that this would happen during your senior year.  The pain you feel, the frustration you have, and the sense of helplessness that you are experiencing are being felt across our entire country and the globe by millions of students in the same situation.

 As bleak as all of this seems, I want to remind you of what great people do.  Great people, in any walk of life, try to make the best of a bad situation.  Eventually, after all of the frustration and despair, great people begin to see all those lemons for the sweetness they can yield (lemonade) instead of the sourness they initially represent. 

Great people begin to think about how they can learn from what they are experiencing.   Thus,  I hope you learn some valuable lessons from these last five weeks.  I hope you have learned how important family is, how important your parents are, how important school is, how important teachers are, and how extraordinary ordinary people can be.  Grocery store workers, mail carriers, doctors, nurses, teachers, sanitation workers, electrical workers, and food service employees have all sacrificed tremendously to make things better for the rest of us.  I hope you learn that all of us can be extraordinary if we truly want to be.

To the class of 2020, College Now congratulates you on all your achievements! We are proud of all of our graduating seniors. We hope that you are finding ways to celebrate with your families and loved ones in unique and safe ways, and we look forward to seeing what your future holds.