A conventional senior year at Gonzaga is full of lasts — last tenting game, last time at a local pub, last time studying in your favorite study spot and last time sitting in a classroom.

This year was much different. In a year where COVID-19 took many lives and uprooted others, it’s hard to imagine how the world will be the same.

For me, this past year was a year of firsts.

My first time taking all online courses, first year not watching a single game in the Kennel and first time understanding what it’s like to really grieve something that is not even gone yet.

If you know me, then you know I am usually a positive person. The 2020-2021 school year has made this difficult.

But, I think in so many ways this senior year, while it may not have been the one I pictured during my first year at GU, it was the one where I experienced the most growth.

I realized that it is important to stay positive, but it is also important to let yourself grieve and feel sad about the events of this past year.

I also found the importance of surrounding yourself with people who make you better —  people who nudge you in the right direction and are not afraid to play a little devil’s advocate when needed.

I may not have been able to do the normal senior year festivities, attend house parties and big gatherings or sit in a classroom full of my peers. I think these experiences would have all been amazing.

But this year has challenged me to dig deeper and to think about what my passions are without the distraction of being constantly busy. It has also pushed me to reach out to others and to check in on the people I love.

Some of the most interesting classes I’ve taken were saved for senior year, and I only wish that I could have sat in a classroom with the people I have spent four years studying and learning alongside.

I am grateful for my professors, who tried their best to make virtual learning resemble the special GU environment as much as they could. After all, community is the reason why I, and so many chose GU.

Although I won’t be able to walk up to fourth floor of College Hall to take my last final exam, I’m sure I will wander in there again someday.

With just a few weeks left in my final year, It’s hard not to get nostalgic about the places and people on campus who helped me become who I am.

I am letting go of the high expectations I had for my final months here at the place I love so much, and now my goal is to soak it all in before walking across the stage in May.

Karlie Murphy is a copy editor.

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