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Press released: Four years later, not walking the stage

From the first moment I stepped onto the Mills College campus in 2016, I knew in my heart that Mills was the place for me. Walking across campus with a group of other potential students, I imagined grabbing lunches at the Tea Shop between classes, listening to the Campanil Bell Tower chime every 15 minutes, attending classes in the historic Mills Hall and thriving in my first few years of adulthood. As I excitedly took notes, making sure to draw stars and hearts next to every fun fact that our tour guide recited to us, we stopped on Holmgren Meadow in front of the big foliage “M”. Our tour guide beamed at the group and said “If you choose Mills, in four years, you’ll be walking the stage right here when you graduate!”

They never could have predicted that even though I chose Mills, I would never walk the stage.

Attending college during a pandemic meant facing disappointment after disappointment, grappling with tragedy and loss every single day and losing the senior year experience I had always looked forward to.

Sometimes when I am consumed with dark thoughts about this last year, I find my hand motioning “command z” — the quick key for “undo” on computers. I imagine myself going “command z” to COVID-19 and living the life I was “meant” to live, the life that I had always imagined I would have. Sometimes I cannot fall asleep at night, obsessing over what “could have been” if the COVID-19 pandemic never happened. I wonder if I would have still moved in with my partner, if I would have gotten better grades, if my family members and friends could have never gotten sick, if I could have visited my Grandpa Walker one last time before he passed away… Sometimes I hope that if I “command z” enough, I will wake up in an alternate universe where COVID-19 never existed, meaning that over three million people would still be alive today.

I struggle with accepting that there’s no way to change the past.

I will never walk the stage for graduation like I thought I would. However, I will walk away from Mills College with a Bachelor of Arts in Art & Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. I will continue the close friendships I made. I will retain the knowledge I’ve gained through my classes, and through new experiences. I will always have my memories of better times and memories of making the best of any situation.

Joining the Campanil staff had been a dream of mine ever since I first arrived at Mills, and I am glad that I finally decided to become a copy editor in 2020. I feel proud that I worked in a team of kind and creative colleagues towards the common goal of keeping the Mills College community informed. Campanil staff meetings allowed me to stay updated on the ever-changing landscape and community of Mills College and to form bonds with fellow student journalists who I look up to. After I graduate, I will take with me all of the lessons I learned about journalism and writing as a copy editor.

When I think about this last year and when I reminisce on my last four years at Mills College, I am almost brought to tears by how grateful I am to my friends, family and professors for their endless support and kindness. Thank you to my friends Emma, Robin, Ethan, Kelly, Isa, Joey, Eileen, Stephanie, Bird and so many more. Thank you Mom, Dad and Andrew. Thank you grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family. Thank you to my professors Keli, Chris, Rebekah, Samara, James and Stephanie. Thank you Grady. Thank you to the staff of the Campanil and to everyone on ASMC. Thank you Reel Stories. Thank you to the talented and resilient Mills College class of 2021.

I am eternally grateful to everyone who has supported me throughout my last four years at Mills College.

Thank you all.

– Grace Patterson