I transferred to UNCW as a junior – leaving me with only two years to get the most out of my time here. My time at UNCW was not your traditional four semesters of schoolwork, hanging out at the beach, and spending time with friends. During the fall 2018 semester, Hurricane Florence happened, as most of you know, taking a month of our time away from UNCW. Then, the next fall semester, Hurricane Dorian came. Thankfully, this only took about a week of our time away. But, it still caused disruption in the semester. Now, we’re all dealing with COVID-19, perhaps the most detrimental situation of them all. The Coronavirus is the monster I never knew I feared. It caused the cancelation of my Italy study abroad trip, took a month and a half of our time at UNCW away from us, and took away graduation. Students across the world are suffering from the effects of this monster. Amidst these terrible and trying times, let’s reflect on the positive memories we’ve had. I, personally, have had a lot.

My first semester, I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way and get involved in as much as I could (being that I only had two years at UNCW). I joined the UNCW Equestrian Club (even though I knew nothing about how to ride horses), Communication Studies Society (to get more involved in my major), Greek life, and more. Balancing all of my extracurriculars with my academics while still saving time to spend with friends was hard. But, it can be done. My advice: join all that you can, all that you’re interested in. UNCW offers many opportunities for us, as students, to take advantage of. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to learn how to ride horses but here I am! If UNCW doesn’t offer something that you’re interested in, take it upon yourself to create your own club. There are bound to be others who have the same interests as you. In doing so, you’ll make connections and relationships that will last a lifetime.

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As we’re all separated from the campus that we love so dearly, our friends, Wilmington (for those of you who don’t live in the area), think about all the memories you made throughout your time at UNCW. Don’t let these current times that we are living in get you down. Keep contact with your friends. Take advantage of the efforts UNCW is making to keep our community strong. Just because we are disconnected, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to make memories.

Moral of the story, time is short. You never know what could happen. Don’t take anything for granted. *Insert any other upchuck-inducing cliché here* We all hate them and think that they’re lame, but they’re all true. I was able to make these memories and lasting friendships because I put myself out there, did what I was scared of. Now, as I’m cooped up in my home in Upstate New York, I can look back at my time at college without any regrets. It ended much sooner than I thought, but I accomplished all that I could.

Jenna Pugliese-McNamara, UNCW COM Class of 2020

Majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Integrated Marketing Communication and a minor in English. Jenna plans to pursue a career in publishing or marketing – or maybe both!