College seniors face uncertain futures amid coronavirus pandemic: "It's just really scary thinking about that"

Pandemic upends college seniors' future plans

The sudden closure of college campuses and universities across the country has sent millions of students home early, in some cases, before they even had a chance to gather their belongings. For college seniors, that means the loss of cherished senior memories as well as uncertainty for their futures as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the U.S. economy. 

Daniella Medina, a senior at University of Central Florida told CBS News' Jericka Duncan that she "really wanted to walk across that stage" for graduation for both herself and her mother, who worked up to three jobs at a time to get her through college. 

"She's the reason I'm here, I wouldn't be sitting in this room at UCF if it weren't for my mom," she said through tears. "If they postpone it or if they have a different ceremony later on, it won't really fill that void… it's so hard. It's heartbreaking."

Other students, like Stanford University senior Gregory Clark, are worried about what will happen after graduation. 

Clark said he left campus in such a rush that he "didn't really have time to say goodbye to anyone," and had to leave most of his belongings in his dorm.

"I was talking with a potential employer a few days ago, and they told me that they actually couldn't go forward in the application process because a hiring freeze had been instituted," he said, adding that the labor market he was looking at was filled with "a lot of uncertainty."

"It's just really scary thinking about that and what's that next step going to be," he said.

His concern is shared by Adelphi University nursing student Morgan Luibrand, who worries her online classes cannot replace the valuable hands-on experience she would normally receive during her last semester.

"I can practice whatever I want online, but you know if I'm not in a hospital doing patient-to-patient care, at the end of the day I'm like, am I really even learning to the best of my ability?" Luibrand said. 

When asked if she feels prepared to enter the workforce as a nurse without the critical hospital hours, she said no. However, the aspiring nurse said she wants to stay positive and hold on to her professor's advice that 2020 is the year of the nurse. 

"I'm missing out on senior formal, senior dinners, my nursing pinning ceremony that inducts me into the Nursing Association. You know I'm missing out on those memories with my best friends. But I'm trying to just look at it in the perspective of, this is all going to make me a better nurse," Luibrand said.