An open letter to graduates of 2021

To my fellow graduates of 2021,

As we approach what is meant to be the grand graduation moment of our university lives, after the handouts, presentations, lectures, seminars, zooms, and countless assignments. I don’t know about you, but something seems anticlimactic, so I wanted to write to you.

My name is Freddie Pearson, for the past four years, I’ve been studying Business Management at the University of Manchester. For me, this year hasn’t been what we thought it would be. It’s not been what we hoped for and it’s not been what we deserved. No face-to-face learning, limited social interaction, and no nights out to celebrate or look forward to. The little luxuries that we often took for granted felt like they were a world away. And they were.

But this year we learned to value. To value the face-to-face friendships we hold instead of endless video calls from half a world away. We learned to value money and the realities of finances when our universities refused to lower our fees. We learned to value the spare time we were given to be creative and to invest our time and energy into ourselves.

Right now, with so many of us young people graduating from university and looking to start our future careers, the job market could not be more uncertain. With two graduating years searching for jobs, the opportunities have become very limited.

But I have learned one thing about our generation, and that is we are the ones who are truly capable of creating change and overcoming any challenge put towards us. We are the outspoken, creative and ambitious group of ever-inventive and inspired people. Where the large firms are unable to offer you jobs, your housemate or seminar peer is creating a new one right beside you.

This year has provided nothing but uncertainty and unclarity. We haven’t had the luxury of planning our future, planning post-university celebrations, celebrating birthdays, attending sports fixtures or playing a sport or visiting our friends at their universities.

But you can always count on our graduating class to make the most out of a bad situation.

Our curious, inventive, ambitious minds will never be halted. Immersing ourselves in house workouts, cooking and language lessons from our housemates, sports nights from our living room, or 6 Nations rivalries heating the cold February weekends.

This year has been difficult, there's no doubt. We have felt lonely and isolated at times. We’ve lost the ones we love due to the pandemic and been separated from our families. But we will all be stronger for this. You’ve battled through your degree when so many others in your shoes would have considered quitting. So I hope when you look back on your time at university you will remember all of what you learned, overcame, and came through outside of the lecture hall.

And before I leave you, I'd like to give you with few things that helped me through this year and I hope will help you moving forward; some final advice for you:

Keep your head up during these times of uncertainty; be as persevering as you can be even when the world isn’t throwing positive signs back at you. Things are beginning to get better, and they will only continue to do so; keep being optimistic in the face of adversity. Remember we are human and that means we must embrace all forms of emotions that are given to us. Whilst it is important to be positive, it is also important to express every emotion ranging from sadness to depression, keep around those who love you and support you. Create structure in your life where you can; exercise, sleep, life admin - whatever it is, give yourself purpose in your life and put yourself in the best position to say YES when the right opportunity comes around.

We can always combat our negative experiences with a positive mindset.

One thing I truly live by, ‘Win the morning and you will win the day!’ - start everyday as you mean to go on, by putting your best foot forward.

Here's to you; you will be the ones to shape our world, some of you already are!

Freddie Pearson

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