January 18, 2021

By Ryan Barba, Editor-in-Chief

When the ability to enjoy life to its highest degree dampened in 2020, transitioning to the next chapter may appear bleak. In the COVID world, the continuous lack of certainty has created a downshift in comfort for the everyday person. For some college students, optimism fuels their perspective going into the new year; and for others, their cynical view remains unbothered. 

Bruce, 21, (who did not want his last name in the article) transferred to California State University, East Bay after graduating from Chabot College this past spring. He said that despite not being able to partake in a physical graduation, he found peace in knowing that transitioning from community college to a CSU is just the beginning of his journey. One that is a ceremonious stepping stone to remind people of what they’ve accomplished.  

“I’m not downplaying the importance of a graduation. It’s just that it’s an event to symbolize [one’s] multitude of success. Whether I crossed the stage, I still succeeded,” Bruce said. 

“While most people may be worried about the things that they miss due to the state that the world is in, I am personally more optimistic about what’s next because it would not be beneficial to be overly worried. I transferred [to a university] and have every reason this year to keep on working.” 

Jacob Landesvatter, 24, is a Laney College alumnus who graduated this past spring and transferred to San Francisco State University. He expressed similar feelings saying he didn’t intend on partaking in a graduation ceremony but sympathized for the students who wanted to. Many of Landesvatter’s friends “were the first in their family to graduate from college.” 

On the contrary, Landesvatter feels relaxed for his upcoming semester at SF State as his last one at Laney prepared him “very well for what to expect” from distance learning. “I came in already knowing what to do,” Landesvatter said. 

For this upcoming year, Landesvatter said that he doesn’t have a goal but is “along for the ride and just trying to adapt to the changing circumstances of COVID-19 in a personal and professional manner.” 

Marco Mendez sits on a friend’s porch to work on assignments during his fall semester of classes in Oakland, CA on Monday, September 21st. 2020 (Photo Courtesy of Marco Mendez)

Marco Mendez, 24, is scheduled to graduate from Merritt College this spring with an associate’s in real estate, and will transfer to the University of California system this fall. Having met the requirements for guaranteed admission into UC Santa Barbara, Mendez is ecstatic to have achieved “something that feels like it took [freaking] forever.” 

Mendez, who has worked three different jobs and has taken classes off and on over a four year span, credits his upcoming graduation to the staff members and instructors at Peralta who guided him throughout his journey in community college.

“My counselors and professors recommended courses that made things easier for me to balance out my life. Even in the hardest of times, the support system that I had, motivated and encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” Mendez said.  

“I feel this new year is a reset button for many reasons. I’m moving to a new setting, basically opening up new paths that lead to new experiences.

“I would never have [had] a chance at the UC’s if it wasn’t for the Peralta colleges. I will bring a part of them with me.”

Sterling Aronson poses for a photo in front of the Arizona Stadium at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, AZ on Sunday, January 10th. 2021 (Photo Courtesy of Sterling Aronson)

At the University of Arizona, Sterling Aronson, 21, is scheduled to graduate this spring with a bachelor’s in management information systems. He said he is excited for the new year as it brings him a much needed change in scenery. Due to COVID restrictions, Aronson spent the 2020 fall semester at home in the Bay Area. Grateful to have been surrounded by family, he still yearned for Tucson’s dry desert air.

“Arizona has been my home away from home for the past four years. I had to return to campus one last time. I needed closure to go to my next chapter in life,” Aronson said. 

Since returning to the university, Aronson said that other than a decrease in students, the vibe on campus has similarities to what life was like prior to the pandemic. Valuing personal comfort, he hopes to encourage students everywhere to find some enjoyment this new year and to look forward to the future.     

“You should still try to enjoy your learning the best you can. Even if you get frustrated you can find ways to teach yourself and be happy,” Aronson said. “I’m fine with just getting my degree and moving on. I have bigger plans for after college and so do many others.”