In a break from tradition for some departments, many final year students submitted their dissertations online this year due to college’s closure in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Students were stripped of the opportunity to post photographs of their printed and bound thesis’ on social media, as typically occurs in mid-Hilary Term, as many final year project deadlines occurred after the shutdown of Irish colleges. Some students found creative ways to mark the occasion, however.
European Studies student Meadhbh Ní Mhidigh told Trinity News that submitting her dissertation via turnitin “was just quite anticlimactic”. She said: “With everything that’s going on at the moment, my dissertation no longer felt like it was the be all and end all that I thought it was a few months ago.”
Her course decided not to allow the opportunity to celebrate pass by though. “Lots of people photoshopped photos of themselves with their dissertation in front of the Campanile and sent them to our course group chat,” she said, “and we made a collage of all of them. It’ll be nice to have something to look back on in place of a class photo.”
Other students agreed that the online submission of their dissertation was anticlimactic. Biomedical Engineering student Aisling Kearney said: “Finishing my dissertation should’ve been one of the defining moments of my college experience, yet clicking the submit button felt hollow. The finality of the moment was a shadow of what it could’ve been. It was strange.”
Kearney doesn’t have a photo of herself holding her thesis in front of the Campanile, as many fourth years from previous years do, but she approximated it. “Years ago, when I was the first person in my family to go to Trinity, I was given a poster of Front Arch,” she said. “It hid away in a wardrobe until I thought it would be funny to take a picture with it holding my thesis, for posterity’s sake. That was mostly how I marked the occasion, along with a few cans and catching up on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
“Strange” was how several students described submitting their dissertations online. “Submitting my dissertation from my kitchen table the night before it was due felt very strange,” said English student Tom Fogarty. “It didn’t quite feel finished. I was up early the following morning for work as I do grocery deliveries for my parents’ shop – but I did send my wonderful supervisor Julie Bates some thank you post.”
Some students expressed a wish to recreate their final year photo in front of Trinity’s defining landmark at a later date. History student Cathal Byrne said: “It was a bit anticlimactic handing it in, I didn’t do anything specific to mark it, but I think I’ll hopefully still get a copy printed off when things eventually get back to normal.”
Liam Byrne, also a History student, said: “I was a tiny bit disappointed that I couldn’t take a photo under the Campanile with the hard bound copy. I might do it when this is all over”. Byrne added that he primarily felt “relief” that his thesis was completed. To celebrate, “I video called my girlfriend who had to go back to the States because of coronavirus,” he said.
Kearney, like many final year students, laments the lost opportunity to savour her last days as a Trinity student. “There’s a rhythm to life: success is followed by celebration. That was absent,” she said. “I couldn’t celebrate with my boyfriend and friends at a pub. Take one last jaunt through campus. Sit in my favourite nooks. Read the names on the rose garden benches. So many of us regret the lost potential of college, that we didn’t make enough friends or go to enough parties. The last weeks of my degree is now one of those things. Submitting my dissertation is one of those things.”
But she added: “With all that said, I don’t need a party to confirm how happy and proud I am about what I’ve achieved.”