The Unplanned

The Unplanned

Vincennes University Logo

April 02, 2020

By Cindy Beaman
April 02, 2020

It’s spring. The flowers are budding, the birds are chirping. As an event planner, I am busy as the bees themselves. I should know, one of my summer workshops is for beekeepers. Our University provides hundreds of enrichment events each year where the community of all ages comes together to learn, grow and play. I plan each event down to the very last detail so they go off without a hitch.

I was looking forward to the Spring Commencement. Planned months in advance. I think about how the PE Complex would soon be transformed into an amazing display of tradition as over 4500+ guests crowded in, anxiously awaiting to hear their graduate’s name called. The stage would be draped in VU blue and the president would give his words of wisdom to the sea of around 600 graduates waiting to turn their tassel. I was ready!

Then everything just stopped. 

The current crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has tossed everything I know and do up in the air. Like everyone else, I am waiting for it to land.  As you read this op-ed, every event and camp through mid-May at Vincennes University has been canceled or postponed. Spring baseball camps, a long-running Bible conference that has happened for 45 straight years, group meetings and more -- all victims of the coronavirus. Most of us are now working from that is quite the experience for me!

Commencement. What will we do?  I think this is the hardest for me. I get so attached to some of these students.  Prior to being in charge of events, I spent 20+ years in Parent & Family Services. I know the VU families pretty well. I have witnessed VU students and their families struggle, I have shared their sorrows and their joys. Parents are passionate about their students’ education. I am sure many of them have already made reservations and plans well in advance of their child’s graduation day. It is a momentous occasion for all. My heart breaks for them and with them.

Many students at VU are the first person in their family to go to college and now the first to graduate.  I think about our students and what it means to walk across the stage as their name is called, posing for that important photo with President Johnson, hearing the cheers from their families. Watching students line up, joking with friends, taking pictures, decorating mortarboards… how will they say their goodbyes? I think about the families. Many of them have put so much into helping and supporting their child to get to graduation day.  Mothers, fathers, grandparents, mentors all preparing for this day... but no one planned for this.

As I wait to see what happens I struggle with what to do. I keep going through my camp folders, reaching out to my contacts, meeting virtually with others to make sure we do what is best for each of us, reassuring everyone that as soon as we know, they will know. I wish I had a crystal ball!  Rest assured, our students will still graduate. 

We are adapting to a new normal. We are a global community of individuals that are in the fight against coronavirus together. My heart goes out to each and every one of you.  My mind is now buzzing with questions.  Will it be the same? Will it be postponed to another date...perhaps combined with our midyear December graduation? Will it be hosted this summer...will we be out of danger by then? Will VU host its first-ever virtual commencement? Will the halls and grounds of Vincennes University be silent, instead of reverberating with the cheers of the Class of 2020 as well as the sounds of campers visiting our campus enriching their lives...making new memories?

The answers to these questions have yet to be decided. What I do know is that we will make it to the other side.  As the old song says, we may never pass this way again, but years from now...these memories, these trials, these joys, these successes will make us who we are. I know that COVID-19 certainly wasn’t part of my plan, or yours, but it is central to our new reality. I hope all who are reading this are encouraged to know we are in this with you. Life has a way of working will this. No matter how this plays out we will all be a part of the VU family at the end of the day.