Making the Best of How College Ends
Take fifteen minutes to listen to the full interview with Dr. Sanam Hafeez, who gives advice on how everyone can prepare themselves for the future while still in quarantine.
Delphine Mason’s life back home in Georgia, where she grew up, looks much different than it did while she was living in the Bronx and attending Fordham University. Being back home with her family has her running on a different schedule than at school. Mason goes for daily bike rides in the morning followed by coffee and the rest of her day consists of helping out her mom.
Mason had been interning for a digital marketing agency since May of 2019 and had been offered a full time position after graduation. The company works with non-profit art institutions across the country, but no one is running campaigns right now since large gatherings are prohibited and facilities are closed.
“The company had no more revenue coming in so about 80 percent of the company was furloughed, since I was an intern I was laid off right away and my post-graduation offer was rescinded,” Mason said.
Mason’s plans for a calm semester of cruising through to graduation on the steps of Fordham University’s Keating Hall did a complete 180 degree turn, shifting her mindset. She’s using the pandemic as an opportunity to readjust her ideas about the future.
“If I just sit down and let myself wallow in it, it’s going to be ten times harder for me to get back out of it.” She said quarantine has helped light a fire in her belly to ensure she is prepared for when life returns to normal.
“At night I sit down with a glass of wine and apply to jobs,” Mason laughed sadly as she explained how her two year plan changed when coronavirus caused the city to shut down six weeks ago. Mason has offered to volunteer for companies that could use her skills during this time.
Dr. Saman Hafeez is a psychiatrist in New York City and a professor at Columbia University. She couldn’t imagine graduating from school right now, but challenges seniors to start planning the way Mason has. Dr. Hafeez said work still needs to be done and seniors can contribute to the world in their own ways.
“If you always thought when you were graduating that…you were going to save the world. Guess what? The world’s giving you this amazing opportunity where the world needs saving more than ever before.”
Dr. Hafeez suggests students build something they can show potential employers when life returns to normal, which she has complete confidence will happen eventually.
“You start small – you start establishing your own brand, you start establishing your own name,” Dr. Hafeez said. “You’ll say ‘look I didn’t let quarantine hold me back.’”
That’s exactly what Fordham University senior Brian Ma has done. He’s taken time in quarantine to expand his app, College Sublets. Ma saw an uptick in the number of people using the app since some college students were forced to find alternative housing when compasses sent them home.
Ma said he and his friends have been worried about the job search, but they are hopeful the epidemic will only be a brief period of uncertainty. He plans on going into real-estate after graduation and is using quarantine to propel that dream forward.
“I initially created the app before covid-19 occurred, so it’s a business I launched to try to help Fordham students and students across America find sublets around campuses.” Ma said it’s an attempt to connect students with each other.
“Being positive and understand that things occur and you kind of have to pivot and be flexible,” is what Ma learned from launching College Sublets and how he has dealt with the changes to his daily life.
Even though Ma has kept himself busy, he’s still missing the life he’s used to at Fordham. Ma said the time away from Fordham has helped him appreciate the people and relationships he’s made at school.
“I couldn’t really dial in what was happening,” Ma said as he reflected on the first few weeks of the epidemic, “But I definitely miss my friends from Fordham.”
Dr. Saman Hafeez thinks there’s a quick fix to avoid missing friends since there are so many virtual options. She suggests inviting some friends and family to a Zoom and celebrate graduation.
“They don’t have to be massive, they can be four or five people, ten people graduating and doing the whole thing and getting that out of your system, there’s going to be something sweet and nostalgic about it some day,” she said.
Brian Ma plans to celebrate graduation at his family home in New Jersey. Delphine Mason is preparing to spend graduation down by the beach in Georgia and doesn’t have plans to return to New York for a while.
“Being in a place where I’m healthy, I’m okay, I’m with my family and my family is well, New York isn’t the only thing that matters at this point when I’m thinking about my future,” Mason said. “I wish it could be the only thing that still mattered,” She said with a chuckle, “but at this point we’ve thrown it all to the wind.”