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  1. Opinion

Because of coronavirus, I’m an FSU senior stuck at home, worried about my future | Column

We want to get on with our future. So help us, don’t patronize us, and we’ll surprise you.
Aerial of Florida State University campus with Doak Campbell Stadium in the foreground, Tallahassee. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]

Securing a post-graduation job in the current coronavirus economic climate is as frustrating as pursuing a pack of toilet paper. College students like me are fated to conclude their semesters virtually, and seniors have limited access to job-hunting resources.

Many students support themselves by working at bars, coffee shops and local businesses. With their bosses increasingly having to make layoffs, our present lives are threatened by financial instability. I was let go from my post-grad job as a photography assistant for performances and productions. My boss said she’d love to be able to work with me, but right now, there’s no work.

Last week, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked billionaire Kylie Jenner to influence her young audience to self-isolate. On Instagram, she detailed her own experience of social distancing, begging followers to stay home. The message may be well-intentioned, and I had watched some fellow students continue to party during spring break. However, I have witnessed far more students submerged in anxiety about their dwindling chances of making rent and finding a job. Most of us are not binge-drinking on Miami Beach. No, we are cramped in our parents’ houses or apartments we share with roommates. We self-quarantine voluntarily, because we cannot afford to become ill. But many still show up to their minimum-wage jobs because if they stayed home, they might not be able to pay the internet bill for our on-line lectures.

Maria Hiers [AJ HASELMWOOD | Courtesy of Soho Images]

So, we don’t want to see Kylie Jenner livestream from her mansion and lecture us about spreading the virus. Most of us are well aware of it. When celebrities beg us to stay home, it is not encouraging. Sure, they may post well wishes, but their feed is still filled with snapshots of luxury living. It is disillusioning and insulting.

I assume Jenner is adequately stocked with bathroom essentials. I myself usually purchase two-ply mega-rolls, but lately, I’ve accepted whatever is available. I haven’t heard from any potential employers. Celebrities will be fine, but students are left to navigate post-grad stress from kitchen-table study spaces or parents’ living rooms. The uncertainty is debilitating, and social-distancing keeps our bodies healthy, but not our minds. My friends are distributed across Florida, and it is hard to generate motivation in self-quarantine. But we persist in sending out resumés, because unlike celebrities, we cannot sit idle and wait for this to pass as if it were a power outage.

If you need a surge of renewed willpower, look to students, not celebrities. Video clips online might have you believe we are inattentive and reckless. A few of us are. Hey, every generation has its idiots, but we are also this nation’s future. Don’t commission Kylie Jenner to Insta-story preach us. Provide opportunities for graduates, and find yourself surprised that Generation Z’s lazy reputation is often undeserved. Thousands of us would fetch a bone for a dollar, or forfeit our last roll of toilet paper to make rent.

Maria Hiers is a senior at Florida State University, currently living in Tampa.

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