In 2020, Paige Davies juggled a criminology degree, a science degree (with a major in psychology and a minor in biological anthropology), fulltime work as a project manager and being a member of the ‘COVID’ class.
At the end of her five years of study at ANU, the 23-year-old from the NSW Central Coast couldn’t take part in any official celebrations.
“It was a bit strange,” Paige said. “Covid took away that finishing feeling.
“There was no closure, no end of chapter.
“You know, the end of high school is a big day. There was none of that.”
Today, 8 February, Paige gets a chance to right that wrong – albeit in an altered COVID-safe fashion – with the ANU’s first graduation event since 2019.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 1,722 ANU students graduated in absentia in July 2020 and 4,378 in December.
With a combination of in-person and virtual celebrations, linking the ANU Village with live-crosses to receptions in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Shanghai and Beijing, today’s event celebrates their achievement of completing their studies in the middle of a global pandemic.
Despite the ‘grand graduation’ missing a couple of traditional elements, importantly it’s given students like Paige a reflection point.
During the pandemic, Paige fought through losing her fulltime job as a venue manager and found a silver lining with the flexibility it brought to her final year of studies.
“I picked myself up and got on with it,” Paige said.
“Now I feel done. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve finished two degrees and completed five years of really hard work.”
Paige is now reflecting upon her five years of good memories and preparing to transition to a post-university lifestyle that she hopes will take her to the UK or to Melbourne, with her time in ‘COVID class’ finally behind her.