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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Looking back at the class of 2020: Rohan Francis

Rachel Cormier
Rohan Francis sits at a table in the Neptune Lounge. Francis attended Plainfield North High School and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

What did your senior year look like before the pandemic?

“One of my assistant band directors, he used to go to the YMCA which is where I would go to the gym like every evening. And so I’d see him there occasionally and he was like, ‘hey, do you know that they’re planning on shutting down school for a couple of weeks?’”

Do you remember the day that COVID-19 changed everything?

“I think it was on April 30 (2020) we would go back because that was the first time it got pushed back and so I was like, damn, that sucks. But whatever right, at least we’re going back for a little bit and then they pushed it back again and they’re like ‘yeah no, school’s done for the rest of the year’ and I was like, ‘oh s—.’”

“I think that is when it hit me when it was like, oh yeah there’s no prom, there’s not going to be an official graduation ceremony.”

When it became clear you were not returning to school, what feeling was going through your head?

“I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty upset because I was like, I, you know, I think I still have the note document, I had like a list of things that I wanted to do when we went back,”

“Obviously, it’s just like a list of ideas to do, but it was mostly just, like, something for like weekends or after school or something like that or like, we had a senior ditch day so that we would, and I know for my sister’s senior ditch day she went to like Chicago and all that. So I was like, let me do the same thing. Right, but I mean, yeah, it was, it was really heartbreaking to see that we weren’t going back because with my friends in high school, I was very close with them. I kept them very close to me and close to my heart. So being told that like, yeah, you’re not gonna be able to see them otherwise you could potentially die.”

Did your school hold a graduation and what did it look like?

“We did a drive through, they gave us signs to put up in our front yard like “Class of 2020,” we’re all in this together type thing.”

“But it was just really sad. I was like, ‘damn, this is really pathetic.’ But I mean, regardless, I still found a way to make the best of it. For our graduation my parents and then a couple of our cousins, they saw us, like, they had a place to take pictures with our dean, the dean of our school, handing us our diplomas, masks, everything. You had to be like in and out quick.”

Do you have any regrets?

“The funny thing was prom was open to juniors and seniors and so my junior year when all my friends were going, I was like, ‘hey, I wanna go,’ but my mom’s like, ‘no you have to stay home and study for the SAT’s and she was like ‘you can go next year.’ I’m like, OK, fair, and then that s— happened.”

What happened right after senior year?

“It was really depressing. It was like, even though I was hanging out with people every day, I couldn’t help but feel alone and I feel like that was a lot of just depression brought on by the pandemic and brought on by a lot of the isolation.”

“And then sophomore year things started lining up. Things got a little better, and then junior year we were pretty much done with COVID by that time. It just puts into perspective how much everyone has changed since then. And the fact that it’s almost like you’re watching a series that’s been going on for like, years and years and years and you’ve been keeping up with it for all those years and then it finally comes to an end and you’re like, this is emotional but it just hasn’t hit you yet that it’s over.”

How do you feel finally being able to graduate?

“I like to think about my high school experience and my college experience is like one big storyline. I feel like it’s the same for a lot of other people too.”

“Like these past eight years have — so much has happened. There’s been so much character development with everyone and so it’s like, damn, this type of s— you’d see in like a TV show or like some kind of serialized reality TV, like, character development. A lot of that. I can’t even say I’m the same person that I was last year.”

What would you have done differently?

“Obviously life is unpredictable. I mean, we have a world ending pandemic so it just goes to show like, ‘hey, life is unpredictable.’ Cherish everything you’ve got now before you have to be shut down and quarantined in your house for seven months.”

How are you going to celebrate?

“I mean, obviously my post-grad plans are gonna be coming back here another year, but in case that that’s not, like, a given, you know, so I mean, this past semester I’ve been hanging out with my friends like almost every single day.”

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