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College Senior Shares His Perspective on Virtual Learning, Upcoming Remote Graduation

Elizabeth Gabriel

The COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns have been especially hard on seniors who were expecting to celebrate major milestones this season, including graduation. Now, a University of Oregon student shares his experience with online classes and a virtual graduation.  

22-year-old Nitan Avivi is graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in math and a minor in computer science.

Avivi said the past few months of online learning have been challenging. With some of his professors prerecording their lectures, Avivi said it has been harder to ask questions about the material. But as a math major, he said having his last semester online has not really impacted his studies compared to others.

“My partner is a product design major, and so she, for example, did a project with ceramics, but she can't go into the studio and actually fire the ceramics,” said Avivi. “So for someone like her, I think it's a much bigger deal to not be able to have classes in person.”

Avivi also worked as a math TA, and the switch to virtual classes has provided him with a more hands-on teaching experience.

“I'm in charge of discussion sections, which has been sort of nice, really,” said Avivi. “This is the first time that I really was allowed to construct the whole lesson plan by myself. Usually the guidelines from whoever's running the main class have been pretty specific. So I've quite enjoyed actually designing lesson plans.”

But his passion does not stop with numbers. While at the UO, Avivi has become an avid dancer. Now, he’s the main teacher for the beginner lesson of the UO West Coast Swing Dance Club and a member of the UO Ballroom Dance Club, where members practice different dance styles throughout the term.

“Each week we bring in a teacher, usually from the Eugene community, to teach a lesson for an hour,” said Avivi. “And after that hour, we have social dancing where we rotate between all the different dance styles. We have a big list on the wall where it says like salsa, bachata, waltz, rumba—like a whole big list.”

And if someone does not know a particular dance, club leaders will work with individuals until they know enough to get them on the dance floor.

Now that Avivi’s time at the UO has come to an end, he said he and his family are disappointed the school will not be holding an in-person graduation so students can celebrate their accomplishments. Since he is the oldest grandchild in the family, his grandmother was supposed to come from Holland for his graduation.

But Avivi said no one in his family is as disappointed as his mother.

“I think the biggest person affected by the changes with graduations is my mom,” said Avivi. “She was very excited to be there. I think she sort of, justifiably, sees this partially as a story of her success in raising me. She raised my sister and I for the most part on her own from when we were pretty young.”

Despite missing out on an in-person graduation, Avivi is optimistic about what lies ahead.

Since this interview in early May, Avivi has been accepted to San Francisco State University’s master’s program in mathematics, and plans to start the program in the fall.

This story is part of a series of audio postcards documenting the missed milestones of graduating high school and college seniors.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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