Some graduates will never be in a classroom again. Others made sure they will.

An+empty+classroom+set+aside+for+socially+distanced+learning+at+DePaul%27s+Loop+campus.

Eric Henry

An empty classroom set aside for socially distanced learning at DePaul’s Loop campus.

Remember that scene in Twilight when Bella meets Edward’s family for the first time? He gives her a house tour and she sees the wall of graduation caps? I want that to be me –– minus the whole repeating high school over and over again and never aging part.

If I had it my way, I would be a student for the rest of my life. My college experience was fun — well, the most fun that DePaul, a nontraditional campus, could offer. But it’s the learning, the classrooms and the lectures that I love most about college.

The Covid-19 pandemic took a large part of that away from a lot of students. Professors did the most they could do to teach us and make our experience still worth it, but this last year just wasn’t what it could be, for me and for so many others.

I knew I was going to go to graduate school after I finished undergrad, but the pandemic further encouraged it. I don’t want this to be the last time I wear a cap and gown. I don’t want to stop learning. There’s just so much more I want to gain from the classroom and so many professors I want to learn from.

Next year I’ll be trading my Blue Demon campus wear for Syracuse Orange. I’ll hopefully be walking across a graduation stage in front of thousands of others, wearing a master’s hood instead of a DePaul stool.

Gisselle Cervantes, an international studies student, will also be graduating this year  — and it’s not her last time either. She will be attending the University of Southern California to receive her master’s in music industry.

“For me, grad school seemed like the best way to build upon the knowledge I have gained at DePaul and use it to get a career in the music industry,” Cervantes said. “Not only do I feel like this grad program at USC will help prepare me in terms of skill, but also help me expand my network since USC is located in Los Angeles, which houses a lot of industry professionals.”

Similarly to Cervantes, Savannah Preuss, a health science major, will also be leaving Chicago after graduation and getting her master’s degree in food science with a focus in enology (winemaking) from Cornell University.

For me, grad school seemed like the best way to build upon the knowledge I have gained at DePaul and use it to get a career in the music industry”

— Gisselle Cervantes, DePaul senior

“I knew further schooling was in my plans even in high school,” Preuss said. “Because my future career is so niche, I thought more schooling would be more helpful for perfecting my craft.”

Preuss and I will be moving east to New York and Cervantes is moving west, but the learning at DePaul will always be remembered and appreciated.

“I have met so many incredible people at DePaul who will live in my heart forever, but it is definitely going to be hard to move away from the phenomenal people here who have formed me,” Cervantes said.

“Even if I had drama or a tough time in school, I wouldn’t change any part of my DePaul experience,” Preuss said. “I think it made me grow into the person I am today. Though you learn a lot academically in college, college for me was learning more about myself ––  how to live with roommates, how to take care of myself.”

My time at DePaul showed me that it’s okay to be interested in a lot of topics and fields. While the journalism program and professors introduced me to a wide range of experiences, reporting on DePaul and living in Chicago showed me that no university or city is ever done growing and learning itself.

“DePaul, as all institutions of higher education, is a school that is historically built for white men and there is still room for growth,” Cervantes said. “In order to do that, DePaul needs to be centering voices of students of color…. I am excited to attend a university that is not directly connected to the Chicago Police Department.”

I’ve never been to Syracuse, I have no idea what the city is like, but if I made it through four years of living in Chicago among three million other people, I think I can handle slightly under 300,000 –– the extra snow though will be a challenge.

Although the experience is ending for many Blue Demons this year, some of us loved our time in the classrooms, so much that we want to see more.

Whether we’re making music or wine, in California or New York –– we will be taking the skills that we learned from DePaul to grow as students and people. These past four years have prepared us to be lifelong learners –– and DePaul will always be somewhat attached to our names and our careers.

But don’t expect us to wear blue on Thursdays anymore.