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An Ivy League education from a childhood bedroom


By Beth Jarvie, Princeton University

3 minute read

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Social media outlets have been flooded recently with senior portraits from the past. These images serve to acknowledge and support all the graduating students who have had their dreams of donning cap and gown and striding across a stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas broken by a global viral pandemic. However heartbreaking, it seems a small sacrifice in the face of the devastation caused by COVID-19. Thankfully seniors will still be able to remotely complete their courses and earn their degrees, albeit without spring break vacations, proms, lawn parties, or commencement ceremonies.

Kevin Hou is one of those seniors. A computer science major who is earning a Certificate in Entrepreneurship through the Keller Center, Kevin finds himself like so many other students today, finishing up his Princeton experience from home, quarantined with his family.

“I never thought I would be completing senior year from the confines of my childhood bedroom, complete with a 5’ height measuring stick, teddy bears, and trucks lining the walls. Helping around the house, having family dinners every night, and trying to teach my younger sister exponential regressions for her 8th-grade math paint a much different senior spring than I anticipated. I have struggled to maintain focus in class and collaboration has become a frustrating ritual as Comcast seems to struggle with five parallel Zoom calls in one household. My post-graduation plans at Airbnb have been pushed out over a year, and global uncertainty has my family in a state of stress that nobody could have anticipated.

That being said, the quality time we have shared as a family watching new TV shows, playing board games, and going on walks has added a silver lining to this all. I’ve been using my newfound free time to work on starting my own business, and I’ve been able to touch base with old friends. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m able to be home with my family where spotty internet and limited grocery runs are our biggest concerns. It is certainly not the same as being on campus, but it works.

Virtual graduation this year won’t be the same, and the sullen reality of being indoors for the foreseeable future is a grim and difficult prospect to comprehend. With the magic of campus stripped away, I can only hope that the Great Class of 2020 can find purpose in our 3.75 years as Princeton students, coming back at future reunions in full strength, forever devoted to reclaiming those last, infinitely precious two months of our Princeton careers.”

We know that commencement is more than just crossing a stage, and maybe by completing this final semester during such a tumultuous time in history, valuable lessons will be learned, and maybe the class of 2020 will be better for it. Maybe.

Stay strong tigers.