Frontliners to Frontliners


To the college graduates of 2020, 

My boyfriend and I were second-semester seniors when COVID-19 caused  us to stop attending our respective colleges in person. He is a nursing student who is currently a Certified Nursing Assistant. Rearranging our entire lives and college classes has been stressful enough but having someone I care for working in the hospitals at a time like this is a feeling I could not have imagined. Especially in New York, the “epicenter of COVID-19,”having someone who works in the healthcare system is the scariest, most nerve-racking thing I have ever experienced. When working in hospitals, everything happens before your eyes and you know exactly what is going on, but when you’re the person staying home, waiting for someone you love to return after a day of work in that environment, your mind is all over the place. You never know what is happening during that shift or what your loved one has been through. It only takes one mistake to contract the virus or contribute to its spread. You wait for texts and calls every shift to assure their health and safety, and still have school and all of your other loved ones to think about.

This is not how any of us imagined the second semester of our senior year to go. College graduation is the moment we dream of from when we are young. I have known that I wanted to be an attorney since the fourth grade and my undergraduate graduation would put me one step closer to my dream, I couldn’t wait to walk across that stage and achieve that milestone. I pictured myself surrounded by the lifelong friends I made during the past four years and living my last moments of “college life” to the fullest. In January, I had an internship with a federal judge in the southern district of Manhattan, which got cut short because of this virus. My boyfriend and I, along with friends, were planning a trip to Miami to go to Rolling Loud 2020 following our graduation. We had so many plans to enjoy ourselves before “real life” took place. But our graduation ceremonies were quickly changed to virtual celebrations or nothing at all because of “social distancing” and the push to “flatten the curve”, this is now the new normal. 

Now that classes are online, teachers and professors seem so much harder to connect with through a computer screen. We try our best to engage with our professors, and, even if it’s difficult, we need to deal with the change. Yes, we know there are bigger things at stake, such as people’s lives. We may be selfish to be thinking only of our graduation, but shifting our focus is easier said than done. Some of us are home with our families, but others have parents or loved ones that are “essential” to the survival of our communities. They are at the “front line” against this virus. We hear, “those are the people we need to worry about, not ourselves.” We see on the news and commercials how brave and fearless healthcare workers are. At times like these we put so much focus on the courage and strength of the people that work in the healthcare system, and we absolutely should. However, it’s not that they are fearless, they just know the time and place for their fear and it’s not at work. With this huge change to life as we know it, we seem to overlook a lot of people.

I am a “frontliner to a frontliner:” A member of the group of people healthcare workers come home to at the end of their shifts. I am the one that assures my boyfriend that everything is okay, and he will get through it. I am the one putting ice on his face from the bruises and inflammation from wearing three masks for 16 hours straight. Every time he goes to work, I cringe, hoping he will stay safe, and I know I am not the only one. The fear caused by the possibility of him being infected by things other than COVID-19 has always been in my head every time he has gone to work in the past. There are many viruses and diseases that are more harmful and more contagious. These are obstacles healthcare workers, along with all first responders deal with every time they go to their job. They always have to be careful and assess each new patient not knowing what they could have, and that worries me. So, why am I more stressed now than I have ever been? Is it because I can’t turn on the television or go on my phone without being reminded how many lives are being taken and how many people are being infected? Is it because I always see a doctor, nurse or healthcare worker either on the news saying they have been infected or in a commercial telling me to stay home? I can’t seem to escape the fact that my boyfriend is risking his life every time he steps foot in the hospital. Healthcare workers are the front line of this virus, but I feel as though we overlook the “frontliners to the frontliners.” . And a lot of the “frontliners to frontliners” are part of the Class of 2020.

So, to all of the members of the Class of 2020  out there like me who have parents, aunts, uncles, significant others or loved ones who are frontliners, or who are living with a healthcare worker, we will push through. I know it’s difficult to try and focus, to study, to write a paper or to simply celebrate these last few weeks of being a “college kid” while a loved one puts their life at risk for the greater good. We are strong, and we must stay positive, not only for our sake but for theirs too.