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The great adjustment

The 2020 spring semester at the University of New Mexico has looked a little different for my fellow undergraduate students than semesters past. Instead of walking around our beautiful green campus in between classes, we are walking into our living rooms with our laptops and chargers. Instead of opening the classroom door at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, we are opening Zoom meetings and Lobomail with our pajamas on.

… I am the undergraduate student body president, a graduating senior studying business administration, and a member of the Class of COVID-19.

For the past several weeks, my fellow undergraduate students and I have faced some of the toughest hardships of our lives due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. To name a few, some students have lost jobs, some have fallen behind (in their) finances and some have had difficulties accessing online learning to complete their coursework. For my fellow seniors, we have struggled to squeeze the last drops of our Lobo experience and accept a virtual graduation. Most importantly, we are now struggling to navigate through the pressures of finding a job in this current market.

A couple of months ago, I imagined what it would feel like to graduate in May. I imagined the feeling of flipping my tassel, receiving my cherry diploma cover and celebrating the moment of accomplishment with my closest friends and family. For so many of us seniors, this moment has been a long-awaited dream.

As the student body president, I can easily say this experience has served as a lesson for all of our students on adjusting to the nasty curveballs life throws. However, when those curveballs have had us off-balance, my fellow students have found ways to seek the silver linings through these trying times.

For the past month, UNM students have practiced social distancing by creating memories and friendships on Zoom. They have participated in virtual community service projects to help give back to the Albuquerque community, volunteered with different organizations and initiatives to help collect and distribute PPE to those in need, and most importantly, the students at UNM have been part of the heroic efforts to provide solutions and care for our most vulnerable.

The UNM community remains strong and is pushing on. I was excited to open Instagram and see UNM students and staff join President Garnett Stokes singing the university fight song with big, bright smiles. Even though we are far away from each other, the University of New Mexico has continued to remind me we are in this battle together, always as one family and one pack. Although my constituents are criticized for being the lazy generation of the social media era, my generation is currently learning some of the most essential elements to life, perseverance and adaptation.

I recently heard UNM Regent Kim Sanchez Rael say that if you squeeze an orange hard enough, you eventually get orange juice. If you squeeze or press anything hard enough, you eventually see what is inside. The same applies to us, the future leaders of our city and our country.

As COVID-19 continues to squeeze us, continues to put pressure on our lives with little indication of when or how “normal” may resume, I can promise inside we will witness young leaders embracing the challenges who will face adversity rather than running away from it. Inside will be each of our young leaders illustrating the true definition of what it means to be a Lobo.

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