Aaliyah Yarde, Alia Thompson and Samantha Thompson are BGCB alumni preparing to celebrate college graduation. Normally a cheerful time of the year, each is a bit nervous about life after college due to the rocky economy caused by the Coronavirus. I spoke with Aaliyah (Skidmore College), Sam (UMass-Amherst) and Alia (UMass- Amherst) as they prepared to complete their final semester of college and enter a new stage of their lives.
Can each of you tell me what it is like being a senior in college right now?
Aaliyah Yarde: I thought I had all this time left to enjoy college and in one moment, it is all gone! I was excited about getting my diploma and crossing that stage. I am a first-generation college student so it is especially heart wrenching because I wanted my parents to witness that proud moment. My cap and gown are in the mail right now. My college is currently saying commencement is postponed, not cancelled.
Alia Thompson: Honestly, I feel like my life as I knew it was destroyed in under 48 hours! Right as all of this was first developing, we were dealing with family health issues so I was going back and forth between Amherst and Boston. I had so much going on that I did not get to say goodbye to friends at college. It has been a stressful few weeks. Now I am starting to lose motivation to complete the year. There is just so much to balance.
Samantha Thompson: I was definitely in denial at first. I was thinking about warmer weather and going on spring break. Then reality set in and it was all very sad. Now I am just trying to move on and forward.
Has the current situation changed your next steps?
AY: I am nervous about looking for jobs because we are about to enter a recession. No one is going to be hiring. I was planning on looking for jobs at the hospital, something perhaps in a lab or doing research. Now I am afraid of getting my mom and dad sick if I go that route. I might just look for a job in retail or waitressing for now.
AT: I was supposed to work for the Red Sox but that is currently on pause because of the Coronavirus. I am realizing that entering the workforce right now is not ideal so it is a great time to consider graduate school. A lot of MBA programs are dropping entrance requirements like the GMAT and minimum work experience. I have a phone call with Northwestern’s MBA program soon and I am excited to learn more about that option.
ST: I am planning to stay in school for one more year to get my Master’s in Business & Analytics. I run track for UMASS-Amherst and the NCAA granted athletes an extra season of eligibility due to COVID-19.
I am sorry to hear that many of your plans have been disrupted but I am impressed that each of you is already thinking about how to adapt to the new normal. Looking back at the last few years of college, are there some highlights you want to share with us?
AY: Studying abroad in New Zeeland was the most exciting part of college. I also got to travel to Australia for a week. It was a beautiful experience and I really embraced nature during my time traveling. I hiked and slept in tents! Overall, Skidmore was a very positive. I am grateful for the friends I made and the person I grew into during my time there.
AT: I was living my best life working for Under Armour in Baltimore. They set me up with a place to live and I got to work on interesting projects with great people. I learned best practices in user-design and customer driven loyalty programs. I recommend all students do an internship. You find out things such as what you like to do and what you are good at doing. You also find out what type of environment fits you best.
ST: I loved being an athlete and running track. It helped financially, but I also enjoyed traveling, all the friendships and being part of a team.
All three of you were on the 2013 trip to India. What memories remain with you today?
AY: I still have a marble elephant that I got in Agra in my room. It is a constant reminder about the experience. It was a great!
AT: Sleeping in the middle of the Thar Desert, it was a wonderful bonding experience for my group.
ST: White water rafting, it was cold and a bit scary, but very fun!
As soon-to-be college graduates, do you have any wisdom gained the past few years to share with current Boys & Girls Club teens?
AY: Keep in touch with your network. Even if you do not see one another that often, you can always pick up where you left off. Growing up in the Club, traveling the world together, you can never replace that type of history. Few people will be able to say they have known you your entire life. I mean, I have traveled to India with my friends. How many people can say that?
AT: Things are not always linear. You have ups and downs. It is a process to get where you want to go.
ST: Where you start is not always where you finish. I began college in pre-med and pre-dental but quickly realized I did not like either. Sometimes you have to switch things up and try new things.
I loved connecting with all of you. Thank you so much for catching up and good luck in the months ahead!