UW Oshkosh senior missing out on gymnastics season, graduation

Baylee Tkaczuk, Guest Columnist

This pandemic has caused myself and many others a sad, unexpected ending to their college careers in academics and athletics.

Although I am grateful to be healthy at this point and know it is very unfortunate that others are suffering in many ways health-wise during this time, many people like myself are also suffering in a different way.

We are losing out on milestone experiences you look forward to your whole life. It might sound selfish to say, but it really has taken a toll on me knowing I will never get to experience these moments how I dreamed after working so incredibly hard for them.

It has been very hard for me to understand I will never sit in an undergraduate lecture again, never compete in a gymnastics meet again, I won’t get to walk at both honors graduation and regular graduation, and so on.

Courtesy of Baylee Tkaczuk

There’s also little things as well, I don’t get to attend my last Oshcars event or get handed the awards I received and earned but rather they are sent to me in the mail.

I don’t get to enjoy the last month and a half of being in college and making more memories with my roommates, teammates and friends. I can go on and on.

I, along with many other student athletes (especially seniors), lost out on our last meet or season after working hard all year just for that one meet, game, or match. For UWO gymnastics, this was our year.

It is so sad to me to not be able to experience and live in the moment in my last meet ever with this special team. We will also never know what could have been.

After winning conference for the first time in 24 years, we knew this was the year to bring a gymnastics championship back to Oshkosh, but we never got the opportunity to try.

We worked all year for this one goal and moment and we never got to experience it.

I knew gymnastics was ending for me, but it didn’t happen on my terms and because of that, it is insanely hard to find closure.

As for graduation, I am extremely upset and disappointed with how it is happening. For many schools, graduation is canceled or has a virtual date.

I do not think a virtual graduation is acceptable under any circumstance, even the one we are in now.

There should be tentative future dates for all 2020 graduates at all schools as we are deserving of this ceremony after years of hard work and dedication.

I am truly disappointed at the fact that UWO (the school I love and am proud to have been part of) has not taken any interest in moving the date back.

Yes, there are options to join the 2020 fall graduates, but then it impedes on their graduation as well. Bottom line is that all 2020 spring graduates deserve this day separately how it was meant to be even if it means pushing it back.

Courtesy of Baylee Tkaczuk

I truly envy those who have gotten their rightful graduation ceremony or will get one in years to come.

I also feel this way about the honors college graduation as myself and those other students (only about 80 in the entire 2020 class) worked extremely hard to be in this program.

We completed extra projects and took on more advanced learning and it’s heartbreaking not to walk for this graduation as well.

I was more excited about the honors graduation than regular commencement and looked forward to receiving a personal graduation ceremony along with being handed the honors college medallion.

The year was by far the most special year of all my life, well at least that is what I used to think.

This year was new beginnings for me and many other student athletes. In 2020, the sport I had done for 20 years of my life was coming to an end.

In 2020 I was meant to graduate from UW Oshkosh and from the Honors College.

In 2020, everything I had religiously done every day my entire life with school and gymnastics was done and it was time for me to transition to a completely different, new life.

2020 was the year of celebration for me. Now it feels like 2020 is the worst year of my life.

There is no graduation, celebration or new beginning. Instead, everything we earned is canceled or virtual and everything else is at a standstill.

I am trying to be positive and accept the situation, but I truly do not understand why these ceremonies, achievements and milestones cannot be pushed back.

I hold the quote “everything happens for a reason” dear to my heart and live by this, but during times like this, I really don’t see the reason.

I hope sooner than later I will be able to find closure with these abrupt endings, but until then, I am suffering from this pandemic in a different way.