UNCW graduates reflect on learning and growing through pandemic, other challenges
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - More than 3,000 graduates will cross the stage at UNC Wilmington this weekend. Among them is Kyle Floyd, who, like many of his peers, says his road to graduation has been anything but traditional.
“It was awesome for the first semester I was here,” Floyd said. “I made a lot of friends, but right when the connections really started to get close, COVID hit in about January 2020, and it was difficult to keep those friendships while never seeing each other.”
Most of the class of 2023 were freshmen when the pandemic forced the university to move to remote learning. Floyd says that was a challenge he never expected.
“You felt a little secluded because you didn’t know who you were in class with,” Floyd said.
Jenny Norris started her journey at UNCW in the fall of 2020. She is excited for her first in-person graduation, since her high school ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic.
COVID-19, however, was far from the only unexpected health challenge Norris would face during her time in college.
“April 26, , 3:30 a.m. My sister was my roommate at the time, and she found me and called 911 and the first thing I remember is waking up in the gurney and I’m like, ‘Is this a dream?’” Norris.
Norris had a seizure and was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. She is fully recovered now, and says her focus on getting her degree in psychology never wavered.
“There was no question of, ‘Do I continue? Do I not?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to go back to school.’ I feel like I’m perfectly fine. I got healed,” she said.
Norris will graduate this weekend and plans to attend North Carolina Central University to pursue her master’s degree. She says her focus now is to help others navigate their own challenges.
“So, let me help these people who do not get help or are neglected in ways that I’m not, whether it’s through the medical community or my family in general,” Norris said.
A series of unprecedented challenges that have taught Norris and the rest of this year’s UNCW graduates to be resilient.
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