Graduating into a Pandemic

Year after year, the young people we partner with work tremendously hard to complete their goals and take the next steps in their journeys. They’re studying and passing exams, graduating and matriculating to new campuses and cities, and starting or advancing their careers… all while navigating systemic barriers and inequity.

In 2020, add a global pandemic and repeated, very public, reminders of racial violence and injustice to that list of obstacles.

But Summer Searchers persevere and thrive!

Recent grad and Seattle alumna Ehler Tha Win took some time to answer a few questions about her experience transitioning from college to career and shares how she believes people can support each other during these unprecedented times.

Question: What’s the next step in your journey?

I just recently finished my undergrad at University of Washington, and I am currently a freelance contractor at Talitha Consults, an equity-focused community planning organization.

Ehler graduating from the University of Washington.

Q: What is your perspective about young people going to school/college during the COVID-19 pandemic?

My heart goes out to each and every teacher and student who has to navigate remote learning or otherwise be physically distant at school for those who chose to be at school. It’s a difficult time to be in and my only hope is for teachers and students to stay safe and healthy.

Q: As schools reopen, do you have advice on how issues of race and racism should be discussed once school is back in session?

We should know that race and class are intersectional identities and that
students carry. I believe that if we are able to recognize the simple fact that being a certain race makes one more vulnerable to public health issues, then we will be more understanding and empathetic individuals.

Q: Do you have advice on how issues of race and racism should be
discussed in the workplace?

I think it’s really important to be at a workplace that values self-reflection and evaluation. One of the most pressing evaluations we can be doing is how we address racism, both individually and corporately.

If you recognize that your workplace doesn’t care about racism then I would encourage you to speak up. It’s really hard and even unfair to be put in a situation like that, but I believe that at times like these, speaking up is the least we can do.

Q: How would you challenge our community to support one another in a time of transition?

I would challenge my community to stay hopeful and actively look for ways to advocate for the greater community if they have the capacity to do so.

Ehler celebrating her graduation with her family.

It is extremely important to look out for one another and care for more than just ourselves during this unprecedented time. This could be us using our platforms to speak up against racism, donating time and money to support a cause, or simply wearing our masks!

Stay tuned as we share more Summer Searcher transition stories. And as Ehler suggests, take care of each other and wear a mask!

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