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“Freshman year can be tough on anyone under typical circumstances, yet this wave of students managed to adapt and flourish despite the added layers of difficulty,” Deputy Editor Nate Schumann writes. Photos courtesy Jackson Free Press

Editor’s Note | Time Flies: Collegiate Class of 2024 Demonstrates Tenacious Spirit Under Uncharted Circumstances

The smiling faces of 20-somethings donning their black caps and gowns as they announce their recent or upcoming graduation ceremonies has made me do a few double-takes while scrolling through my Facebook feed over the last two weeks. “Wait, that person is graduating from college?” I’ve found myself thinking. Sure, these students are quite capable, so their accomplishments are not what surprises me. What’s bewildering this 28-year-old is that I could have just sworn that these people (who have my congratulations) just graduated from high school!

Alas. No. They graduated in 2020, the year that left no one in this country and beyond unscathed, a year so eventful and stress-inducing that it almost feels like we were still sheltering in place only a month ago. But no, that chaos began four years ago. Around this time of year in 2020, I was still the managing editor for the Jackson Free Press, and I was helping to coordinate that year’s batch of Amazing Teens, the feature we used to spotlight a handful Jacksonian seniors and juniors who had achieved success in their academic and extracurricular endeavors and who were taking the next steps toward their future goals.

Now, thanks to posts of friends, colleagues and others, I’m seeing that many of those familiar faces are graduating from college this May. I am incredibly proud that Mississippians are showing out and making their marks in colleges across the state and elsewhere in the nation (shoutout to Mississippi Free Press advisory board member Maisie Brown, who is among those graduating this year).

The traditional students in this year’s graduating classes had to begin their college careers remotely. COVID-19 was still in full swing in August 2020, and students who were robbed of the final months of their senior years in high school suddenly faced a new strata of scholastic challenges while still navigating virtual-learning tools. Freshman year can be tough on anyone under typical circumstances, yet this wave of students managed to adapt and flourish despite the added layers of difficulty.

Even though the world rediscovered a sense of normalcy (to a degree) following the implementation of COVID vaccines and the return of in-person learning, this year’s graduates prove that Mississippians can succeed when push comes to shove.

I would like to take an opportunity to remind our readership that the MFP accepts freelance writers from across the state. You do not have to live in Jackson where our headquarters is to be part of our team. So, if any of you graduates—or active college students, for that matter—are looking for some part-time work now that classes are over for the semester, send me an email at to express your interest. Whether you have journalistic experience or would like to begin learning the ropes, we can help hone your writing skills as you report on the people and goings-on of Mississippi. Writing samples are helpful when applying.

OK, your resident features editor is finished plugging our freelancing program, but I do hope to hear from some of you! We have had many students develop a passion for journalistic writing by working with us and getting to know their communities better.

I digress. Thank you for reading. Now, If you’ll excuse me, I have to take my seat. My sister-in-law’s graduation ceremony is about to start.

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