2020 Graduates: Where are they now?


Courtesy of Alexa Rome

Recent graduate Alexa Rome shares her new health based Instagram, creativecurations, in order to inspire others to pursue a nutritious lifestyle.

Hayden MacDonald, Photojournalist

As Yorba Linda High School is still yet to return to in-school classes, colleges across the country have questioned the reality of successfully returning to campus as well. Recent graduates of Yorba Linda have had to move on from their high school experience prematurely. This transition has been difficult for many who weren’t able to say goodbye to the place they called home for four years. 

2020 graduates are now all over the country. Some are staying local to attend community college, some have chosen to attend school out of state, and others are still undecided on what their future holds. This transition is difficult for graduates of any year but especially this year. 

Colleges are still charging high tuition even for online classes, unemployment numbers are still skyrocketing, and a return to normalcy is still far off in the future. All of these new factors have only increased the anxiety that these recent graduates have faced. They have been preparing for this moment their entire educational careers, but now that day is here and it is anything but expected.

How have these graduates faced these challenges? Do they feel prepared for the obstacles yet to come? Have their goals or aspirations changed? And most importantly, do they still carry hope and determination for a better future?

For those who have decided to attend college away from home, many have seen it as an opportunity to try new things. Away from home, they have been able to meet new people from across the country as well as immerse themselves in new cultures and regions of the United States. Although many classes and lectures are still taking place online and apart from others, they are still exploring their new homes, connecting with roommates, and participating in Greek Life. 

Recent Yorba Linda graduate and current Auburn University student, Sean Tieskotter, speaks highly of his college experience and praises Auburn for their handling of COVID-19. The only downside he mentions is the inability to engage in school activities, especially with Auburn’s raging school pride that motivated him to choose this university. 

Their Freshman year is far from normal, but graduates have faced these hardships with an open mind and a positive attitude so they can still enjoy their newfound freedom. 

As costs for college remain astronomical despite the pandemic’s restrictive measures, many 2020 Seniors have chosen to attend college locally to stay close to their families and to save money. These graduates can continue to live in a familiar style and do not have to face the challenges of moving to a new and unknown place. 

Although Orange County remains in the states’ red tier on the Coronavirus restriction list, many restaurants, gyms, salons, and movie theaters have been able to open for limited indoor capacity. These new updates have been beneficial for recent graduates to immerse themselves back into the communities they have called home for their entire lives. 

The main problem facing local students is their uneasiness to move on from their high school careers. Without a proper end to their adolescence and primary school education, many have felt lost and unmotivated to move forward with their lives. This feeling of being stuck in a sort of “limbo” has led to many feeling increased levels of stress and anxiety. 

For those choosing neither of these options, their futures seem entirely unknown. Many have decided to move forward into the armed forces as a structured pathway towards the future. Others have gone directly into the workforce to begin their paths. 

Yorba Linda High School Class of 2020 alumni, Cole Lizar, says that the pandemic completely changed his college plans. These prior to the pandemic included pursuing a four-year institution and all the normal activities college students experience. As the pandemic spread, he had to make a choice of whether going directly into a university would be worth the costs. Cole made the decision to attend community college and hopes to transfer to a university in the near future. 

As with the entire country, graduates’ lives have been placed on hold, as coronavirus restrictions have halted many from choosing their own journeys. These years that have been praised as the best of their lives are now placed on hold. During this time many would attend parties, travel the world, fall in love, and meet new people. Now they attend virtual classes, quarantine at home, and social distance from friends.

Despite the multitude of challenges facing these graduates, all of them still hold hope for a future beyond coronavirus. 2020 Yorba Linda High School graduate, Alexa Rome, has started an Instagram page dedicated to motivating others to live a healthier lifestyle. She believes that having a healthy diet, meditating, and keeping a positive mindset has helped her stay focused on her dreams. She still plans to travel the world and serve on a mission trip for her church. 

Their positive mindsets have helped them to face their fears and continue to work diligently in their pursuits. During this time in isolation, many have been able to shape their character and increase their compassion for others. 

This time in isolation has also brought similar benefits to those still in high school. A break in the usual schedule has given many much-needed clarity on questions long-held of what their futures may hold. 

Although fear and anxiety levels have escalated during this pandemic due to SAT cancellations, sports season being postponed, and community service opportunities being unavailable; many have begun to investigate alternate life paths rather than the ones paved since kindergarten. With the bleak image of an online college education during this pandemic, it has become increasingly less desirable for future students. 

The class of 2021 is currently tackling the college application process amid this pandemic and must make their own decisions on their future. With the perspectives of all of these recent graduates, how do seniors feel about potentially moving forward without returning to school?

ASB President and Senior, Sydney Kim (12), states that she holds, “the same plans and goals in regards to college and [her] career path.” Despite the current world situation she feels more, “motivated to continue working towards [her] goals and striving to succeed.” Her optimistic viewpoint serves as encouragement to all other seniors feeling anxious for their future.

It may be difficult now, but the future will get better. Seniors need to persevere and continue to work towards their goals. Whether it be continuing on to college, joining the military, entering directly into a career, or traveling the world: there are infinite opportunities to live the life you want.