Seniors reflect on their last semester being cut short

Anissa Reyes

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

Dollar Beer Tuesdays at Cain & Abel’s, the 360 Bridge, Jacob’s Well — these were all things on Clarissa Gauna’s ‘What to do Before Graduation’ bucket list. 

“(The bucket list) was part of my whole, ‘Oh, I'm a senior, this is my last hurrah, I'm going to do (all of) this and it's going to happen this last semester,’” sociology senior Gauna said. “But then you know, it didn't happen.” 

After the semester was moved online due to coronavirus concerns, Gauna said she knew she would no longer be able to complete her list before graduating. Seniors also had their in-person graduation ceremony postponed and supplemented with a May virtual commencement

"It doesn't feel real,” Gauna said. “It feels like I'm on an episode of ‘Punk’d.’ I feel like they're going to come out and be like, 'Yeah, just kidding, you've been punked.'" 

Gauna said she is especially upset because she was a Coordinated Admission Program student her first year and now won’t be getting the full three years that she was looking forward to upon her admission. 

“I spent four years trying to get here in high school then another year because I was a CAP student,” Gauna said. “I tried for so long to get here, and now I'm getting booted out early.”  

Nicole Leeton, a third-year communication sciences and disorders student, is graduating a year early, which she said adds to the loss of a shortened senior semester. She said a lot of her highly anticipated plans of going to final events with her spirit group and saying goodbye to all her friends are no longer possible. 

Leeton will be continuing her masters degree at UT in the fall, which she said brings her some comfort to the situation. However, she said she feels her time on campus will be limited and more focused on her area of study. 

“There's something about college with the undergraduate experience that you can’t get anywhere else,” Leeton said. “You don't get to kind of just walk around campus and probably lollygag as much. It seems more career-based, and unless you have a purpose, then you're pretty much (off campus).”

Plan II senior William Graham said the shortening of his senior semester mainly influenced his senior thesis, which he worked on his entire undergraduate career. Plan II students present their thesis at a symposium at the end of their senior year. Now, it won’t be happening. 

“Not getting to see it to its full potential is really kind of a letdown,” Graham said. “I still get to finish it. It's just all of the formal stuff where I'd be presenting is no longer happening, so that kind of takes away a lot of the incentive of the work I've been doing.”

Although they said they’re disappointed that the semester was shortened and this ending was not what they expected, Graham, Leeton and Gauna said they enjoyed the memories they made at UT up until this point.

“(Students should) make their last list early (of) all the things they want to do in Austin before they leave,” Leeton said. “Start on that early and don't procrastinate doing any of those things, cause, you might not be able to (do them).”

This story was updated to remove a sentence which was leftover from a previous draft. The Texan regrets this error.