By Yaffa Fredrick, CNN
Airreona Godfrey, a Detroit native, could not have been more excited for the final weeks of high school. Though she was juggling an internship and a part-time job, she was ready to celebrate prom and graduation with her closest friends and family.
Then the pandemic struck -- and, within weeks, everyone in Godfrey's 11-person household was infected or exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. Still, she says, "I kept reminding myself -- it could be worse: one of them could die."
Around the same time, Catie O'Reilly had landed a health care consultancy job in San Francisco, which she planned to start soon after her graduation from Vanderbilt University. But her hopes of beginning the next chapter of her life -- and paying down her $15,000 in student loans -- were soon dashed.
As Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the economy, the consultancy firm pushed back her start date to 2021, with little guarantee that it would happen at all. "Though I understood why they had made this decision, my ability to maintain my composure -- to hold onto hope -- temporarily receded into the background," she writes.
Meanwhile, Vinay Rao was preparing to graduate medical school and begin his residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. However, instead of a traditional introduction to practicing medicine, he had to abruptly shift to an alarming new reality -- one in which he'd be helping patients battle Covid-19, a disease compounded by the city's stark racial differences in health care access.
"To be effective health care providers," Rao explains, "my colleagues and I [now] have to do more than treat the individual patient at his or her bedside. We have to delve into the disparities affecting the communities in which we serve."
These students are a snapshot of the new and complex realities facing young Americans across the country. With classes going virtual, graduations postponed to spring of next year and millions of job opportunities lost, young people are being forced to contend with some of the greatest challenges of adulthood right now.
But there is some good news: The generation that is feeling a particularly heavy blow from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic -- and now a month of protests against centuries of racial injustice -- is largely taking it in stride and showing why it deserves to be called "Generation Resilient."