Hey class of 2020,

It felt important to write this, although I’m not quite sure where to begin. I know, things are really crazy right now. Most of us are probably feeling a bit down in the dumps. Our classes are being pushed online, events we’ve been looking forward to are being canceled,  and who even knows if we’ll have a commencement ceremony any time soon. It’s a tough time to be in the class of 2020.

I know, I’m right there with you! I got the email yesterday that the rest of my semester will be spent online. It broke my heart. I think I cried more in the last day than I have in the last month. My commencement is still up in the air as they have yet to make that decision. There’s a lot of emotions going around, and it’s okay to feel this way. I know the whole world is dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t lessen the hurt that we’re feeling.

It’s okay to be mad, upset, or sad. This was supposed to be a joyous season. One full of celebrations and that feeling of success as we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas. We were supposed to be able to see our friends in class every day, pass by old friends as we’re running across campus to our next class, laugh with the classmates that have become like family while we’re down to our last brain cell staying up late working on those final projects. Now, we’re all self-quarantined and trying our best to pull off the rest of our classes from home. It’s probably now the way any of us were expecting our last semester would go, I know it’s never what I had in mind.

I think what hurts the most is not getting those last memories in with friends. I was looking forward to trips spent with my department and a team that I’ve grown so close with after we’ve worked so hard all semester. I wanted those late nights spent in the library or Warf-Pickel as we get those last group projects wrapped up. I’ll miss just walking into class and being able to laugh with my classmates who have become close friends and the professors who have played an integral part in shaping me into who I am today. A lot of whom, we’ve stuck together since Freshman or Sophomore year. I was excited to scream and cheer for each of my friends as their name gets called to walk across that stage. Now, I don’t even know if I’ll see some of them in-person until our commencement day comes, and that makes me sad.

Regardless of all the pain, don’t let this diminish the incredible work you’ve done. We’ve all worked really hard the past four years, and fought our entire lives, and we deserve the recognition and feeling of success for pulling it all off. Heck, I’m proud of us for going through what we are right now. I bet not many classes can say they had their whole semester uprooted during spring break. That in itself is something to be proud of. It shows how much stronger we are and that we are truly able to get through anything. Keep pushing, keep working hard, and keep your head up. Celebrate those honors you received, be excited about passing those really hard classes, and enjoy the fact that you made it through those rough presentations. The class of 2020 is worth celebrating big.

I know things will be hard for a while. Who knows how much longer things will be like this. If we all listen and practice social distancing and stay at home, hopefully, things will clear up soon. Either way, moving on is going to be hard. I know I’m already scared of what the job world is going to look like after this hit the economy is taking. Joining the “real world” is scary enough, now we’re delving into what seems like a “post-apocalyptic” world. It’s scary and it’s unknown. It’s also going to make us one of the strongest generations out there.

To the class of 2020, know I’m so proud of you. I’m proud to be one of you and I can’t wait for the day when we can all celebrate together. Keep going strong in your online classes. Don’t give up. It’s okay to be upset, but don’t forget to proud. You’re doing amazing, unthinkable things.

Especially to my fellow Bucs – I’m sending all my love. Y’all mean the world to me.

❤ / Bailey

PS – Don’t forget to stay in touch! Snapchat and FaceTime your friends relentlessly. We all need a little extra friend time these days.

I just graduated from the Disney College Program, what’s next?​

Whoa, what a journey. The Disney College Program has been the most life-changing experience over the last four months. I’ve spent every day working and playing in the Disney World parks, and it has been the most joyous time. I loved my job and the people I have been surround with. But, like all good things, it must come to an end. As much as I would love to stay here (and trust me, I REALLY would), I am at peace with my decision not to extend my program. I got my graduation ears yesterday and have five more shifts of work until my program is officially over.

So, what is next? I’ll be moving back to Johnson City, Tennessee. My mom and sister are meeting me here in Orlando to play in the parks for a few days beforehand and then help pack all my stuff up and begin the 10-hour drive home. I’ll have a few days to get settled in and catch up with friends and family before starting back my job with the Communications team at FCC. I’ll be working on a cool project that I am excited to dive into and looking forward to seeing my amazing coworkers there!

I’ll be back on East Tennessee State Univerity’s campus in the fall to start my SENIOR YEAR of college. I can’t believe my last year of undergrad is already here. I only have five classes and two big tests (a critical thinking skills test and a major field test) standing in the way between me and a bachelors of science in media and communication. It’s crazy! I technically could squeeze that all into one semester and graduated in December, but with being gone this semester and getting used to being back on campus, I’ve decided to stick with the full four years and graduate in May 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with Disney, and I can safely say that this isn’t the end. I will be looking into Professional Internships and other positions within Walt Disney World for post-graduation in the hopes of returning next year. This has been an amazing company to work for and one that I am nowhere near ready to say goodbye to just yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do another College Program! Whatever may come, I know doing this College Program will be a great door opener and I cannot wait to see what my future holds.

Goodbyes and really hard and this next week is going to be emotional, but I’m going to take advantage of every moment I have to make some magic!

❤ / Bailey