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Northern Star

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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: Allison Spotts

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Rachel Cormier
Allison Spotts stands outside in a jacket and beanie hat. Spotts attended DeKalb High School and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

What did your senior year look like before the pandemic?

“When you’re an athlete, you’re seeing your soccer season and your senior night and, like, people celebrating you and stuff, and there was just really none of that, it was just, I never really felt done with high school.”

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

“We were sat down in I believe our English class and our teacher was like, ‘You guys might have heard, there’s this sickness going around so unfortunately we are going to close down for two weeks and then we’re going to come back.’”

“He just kind of made it seem like not a big deal, just two weeks and then we’re gonna come back. And then obviously that never happened. We ended up being fully online for the rest of the semester and they didn’t really know what to do.”

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

“I had a lot of confusion and I feel obviously super torn. I’m like I shouldn’t be upset about these small things like graduation when there’s a larger thing going on. It’s like a huge nationwide pandemic and, like, lives are being lost, but I was still obviously upset. I was young and these were things that I’ve been expecting and told that would happen for longer than four years. Just that’s what you see all the time.”

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

“We were told we’re doing a drive-thru graduation where we were allowed to have two cars of family members, one with myself and whatever else we could fit, and then one other car with us, and you just get in this line around the school and you’d go up eventually pull up to these like garage doors, and you’d have to wear your mask, but then you can take it down and they call your name and you just walk up and grab your diploma and then they’d have you like six feet away in front of this kind of backdrop of, I think it’s like our school’s name or something, and we were allowed to take down our mask. Take a photo and then you get back in your car and that’s it. I never even got that photo. I’ve never seen that photo of me in my graduation gown with my diploma.”

Do you have any regrets?

“Honestly NIU wasn’t my first choice. Before COVID, I was looking at other schools, but I was hoping to go to a different school with a scholarship from soccer, but then since I lost my senior year, I didn’t have any film to, sort of, show colleges, so I ended up not really being able to play soccer. So I just showed that to NIU because it was offering me the most scholarship money to be honest.”

What happened right after senior year?

“I was kind of in a panic to find a new job. I luckily had a connection with somebody I had met through Planet Fitness, which was the gym I was working at, and got a job at Target.”

“My first semester was just me sitting in my childhood room, now doing college courses, with teachers that had also never done online courses. So it was a lot of learn-as-you-go type of stuff. And then my second semester, I decided to go into the dorms, just to get that sort of experience, but it was very odd because you weren’t allowed to have a roommate so I was in a two-person dorm room with just myself.

How do you feel finally being able to graduate?

“It kind of feels like I’m going into this blind. Like I saw a lot of other people’s graduations because I was in choir so we always sang the graduations. So all these people graduate before me, so I know somewhat what it’s like, but it’s never been me. So yeah, I don’t know, it just feels surreal and it hasn’t really set in yet.”

What would you have done differently?

“It’ll be really nice to have all that same family now in person actually being able to, like, stay and talk to them and have them all together.”

How are you going to celebrate?

“My high school graduation was supposed to be in May and I’m graduating in May, but it’s also my birthday, so I also wasn’t able to celebrate my birthday, really, or do anything significant with it. So now we’re going to a Chicago Fire game and I’m bringing a couple of my friends and we’re, like, spending a day in Chicago.”

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