SARAH SHARPE WRITES — It is the evening of July 20th in the year of 2020.

I am just getting home from my evening walk, about to watch the nightly news and catch up on my studies.

I’ve done this same routine nearly every night for the past three months.

Had you asked me in the middle of April if COVID-19 would still be running rampant through the United States at this time, I would have answered, confidently, ‘no,’ but here we are nearly five months into the first pandemic in over a century.

Things improved for a short while; restrictions on dining and shopping were rolled back, and beaches had reopened. Now three weeks later, they have slammed back down again. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising, and we have been thrown back into a state of deep uncertainty.

I had accepted the fact that the first semester of my senior year of college would end in online instruction, but I could not have predicted that my entire final year would amount to a series of Zoom calls and online quiz submissions. Even more devastating was the news that my younger sister’s entire first year of college would be completely remote. After watching her slave away writing college application statements and cramming for AP exams, she had finally been accepted into an incredible school — just to be told that she will not receive the freshman experience she has always dreamed of.

I realize that our situations are not dissimilar to those of many students in the United States this year. And while I feel an unprecedented level of disappointment, I now understand that education is not a right, but a privilege—one that I will never take for granted again.

Never would I have thought or imagined that I’d miss hiking up four flights of stairs in University Hall every day or running from a meeting in a professor’s office across campus to make it to class on time. But I do. And it looks like those longings will not end anytime soon.

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