Editorial | To new beginnings, for all of us

Iowa’s Class of 2021 is facing hopeful new beginnings, just like the rest of the world, as we emerge from a pandemic and a turbulent final year as students.


DI Editorial Board

Roughly 5,300 Hawkeyes will get their diplomas this year, and wow are we ready for it.

For Hawkeyes in their last year at the University of Iowa, this May marks new beginnings. But this month, characterized historically by new life and a return to vibrancy from the doldrums of winter, has brought new beginnings for everyone else too.

As the class of 2021 takes our diplomas, more and more people are hitting a two-week mark since their last vaccination for the life-altering COVID-19 virus (many in Iowa City are being inoculated by the UI’s very own nursing and pharmaceutical students).

As we flip our grad tassels and leave the classroom for the next stage of life, the U.S. is transitioning alongside us, too. A similar hope ignited from an end to challenging years of sleepless nights, difficult projects, and canceled nights out, is being felt across the U.S. as a pandemic that has claimed more than 580,000 lives is curbed by rapid advancements in science and technology.

For some, becoming more comfortable with going out to restaurants or reentering public life may be about finally getting “back to normal,” but everyone will carry the memory of the pandemic with them — that new knitting picked up, a renewed appreciation for visiting a grandparent who is vulnerable to serious disease, or an empty spot at the dinner table that can’t be filled. Hopefully, once our country becomes safe enough to conduct our daily lives, we will continue to spend more time with our families and connect through the new tools we’ve discovered.

Despite the hurdles of the pandemic, many students earning their diplomas have continued to accomplish extraordinary — and ordinary — feats during their tenure as Hawkeyes.

One graduate student is turning her TikTok fame into a nonprofit to promote financial literacy, especially for marginalized groups. Another graduating student turned Hawkeyes out to vote in record numbers in the 2020 election despite a new emphasis on mail-in ballot and absentee voting during the pandemic.

And instructors and behind-the-scenes staff provided relief, support, and joy during a challenging year. One professor offered Thanksgiving meals to students who couldn’t visit family for the holiday, and another challenged UI President Bruce Harreld to a dance-off, one of many light-hearted videos he made for students.

In 2018, our class was shaken to our core when one of our peers, Mollie Tibbetts, was found murdered. She should be graduating with us, but Hawkeyes’ resilience was revealed in spite of grief then and even now. A group of five elite runners plans to run 100 kilometers from Kinnick Stadium to the Public House in Davenport on May 22 to raise money for the Mollie Tibbetts Memorial Fund for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Thousands of Hawkeyes will end their careers where, for undergraduates at least, it began — at Kinnick Stadium on Sunday. As the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter — and maybe “Back in Black” will greet the Hawkeyes as they take the home field this fall — the 2021 graduating Hawkeyes are breathing a sigh of relief, along with the rest of the world, for new beginnings.

Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the DI Editorial Board and not the opinion of the publisher, Student Publications Inc., or the University of Iowa.

Editorial board members are Sarah WatsonAlexandra SkoresHannah Pinski, Evan Mantler, and Cesar Perez.