My name is Tina Turner. I am the host of 90.7 WVUA-FM’s, The College Struggle, which before the COVID-19 Pandemic came on, on Thursdays from 6-7p.m.  The College Struggle is a show where I not only played the best of the best songs from the early 2000s but brought on students to share their college experiences whether good or bad in a way to remind students that we are all in this together.

My journey at the University of Alabama began in 2016. I was 17 years old when I made the move from Prairieville, Louisiana to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to become part of the capstone. You can only imagine the disappointment of those around me in my hometown when I didn’t choose to be an LSU Tiger.

The second semester of my freshman year I discovered WVUA-FM. Now, was that through a Get on Board Day or research, I honestly can’t remember at this point in my senior year now a 21 year old, people kept telling me, in the end, it will feel like it went by so fast and they were right. What I do remember is my interview. How giddy I was during it, how eager I was to present my show pitch idea, The College Struggle, to Mr. Terry, our General Manager and Arielle, my then Station Manager. I printed out three copies of my show pitch form, I’m pretty sure I brought a laptop case to hold my paperwork because I didn’t have a briefcase, nor did I need one. I was doing the most, to say the least, but that worked in my favor because I got the job.

At the station, we usually bring people on as a playlist DJ for their first semester.  They do a two-hour set, get them comfortable with being on air, and working the automation board, and then we encourage them to pitch a specialty show idea (like The College Struggle) if they choose to stick with us for their remaining time at UA.

I went in with zero radio experience (which you do not need to start there as a student). In my interview, I remember saying I did theatre and speech and debate in high school and said the morning announcements hoping that would give me an edge. And for Terry and Arielle, that was enough. Well that, plus my over-preparedness and giddiness to start. I got an email maybe the next day saying they approved my show pitch and that was the beginning of the College Struggle.

And now this is the end.

From my freshman to senior year I talked about every struggle imaginable for students at UA. I talked about Greek life, SGA scandal, being broke, relationship advice, career advice, being a minority on campus, whether it be due to race or being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. And I’ve done it all with students and faculty as my cohost serving as experts or falling victim to that particular struggle. I would have never ever thought that the final struggle I would be covering and in March at that, not even May, would be Coronavirus. And here’s a snippet of that last show.

Most of the struggles I covered have been fleeting. Things that have passed or will soon enough, little anxieties that students face. But this one directly affects us all. This one has made us leave campus without saying goodbye to our friends who could be heading to a city that’s a hot spot. This one has made me lose one of my jobs at another radio station, which I deepened on to pay rent. This one is forcing graduating nursing majors to jump into dealing with a crisis that I hope they are prepared for. This struggle certainly did take away the opportunity for college graduates to get check off that milestone of walking across a stage to receive a diploma and having friends and family cheer us on. This one is indefinite and inconvenient and possibly fatal for those it infects. And I’m lucky enough to be a part of an age group that’s immune system is said to be strong enough to fight off this virus, so I hope that remains the case. One of my biggest worries about this struggle, this virus is the lasting economic impact of it will have.

And before I continue to complain, which is really what The College Struggle is here for, to let it all out and then, of course, find the silver lining or even a solution, I first should recognize that I am a senior who will soon be graduating with a college degree and leaving this school with tons of work experience in the exact field I will be pursuing after college. In the times to come after this pandemic I imagine that will serve to my advantage even more so, in the job hunt, at least I hope so because that’s what I’ve been preparing for this whole time.

As I stated before, I entered college in 2016. That was the year Trump became President. I remember hearing girls on my dorm floor chant “Build that Wall” when they heard the news if him winning. I remember seeing others literally cry because they were afraid of what this meant for them and the America, they live in. Since Trump’s presidency, I’ve heard him go on and on about how the economy is doing better than it ever has before, how the unemployment rate is going down. And despite how I may feel about him these are things I want to hear as a soon to be graduate going into the real world needing a real job. But that is no longer the case. I will be looking for a job in the beginning of a recession that is predicted by JP Morgan to be “a bad recession” and have a “financial strain akin to 2008.” My single-parent household was hit hard by the 2008 economic downfall. And it’s only now, 12 years later that my family seems to be even somewhat standing back on two feet from all that has happened. It has not been easy, and one of the realest parts of my college struggle for me was not knowing how I would continue to pay for it each year. It is truly a miracle that I have made it this far.

I recently sent an email to one of UA’s career advisors, Melinda King. I interviewed her for a College Struggle show earlier this year covering UA’s career fair. After the interview she told me to reach out of I ever needed any help and assistance with the next step and last week I reached out to her. I’ve been applying to jobs, internships, and fellowships here and there since December of 2019. The job offer that I had for after college told me they are not allowing anyone at all in the office anymore and that’s all they said to me. So, I guess my waiting game for jobs begins again and now I’m not sure how long it will take. 

I interned in Brooklyn last summer and it was an amazing experience that led me to want to move to a big city after college. Now big cities are what I have to avoid. My spring break trip to New York City was cancelled due to Coronavirus. It would have been chance to see some Broadway shows and hangout with the friends I made that summer, friends I haven’t seen since. Now Broadway is closed, and those friends have disbanded back to their hometowns outside of the city.

One of my closest friends that I’ve made in college also happens to be somewhat of a genius. She’s a double major in International Studies and Economics with a GPA that I am way too jealous of. She was offered a full-time job in New Jersey with a jaw dropping starting salary. Yesterday she expressed her anxieties to me; the thought of the company calling her to say they can no longer bring her on because of how they have to handle COVID-19. To hear one of the smartest and most qualified people for a job say they are stressed about the next step, stressed me out even more.

Today, 19 days into my quarantine I know I can only complain so much. That my college struggles don’t even compare to what so many people around the world are having to go through. I’m taking my Zoom classes, facetiming my friends, I even started a quarantine poetry club. I’m good and here’s the cherry on top: I’m doing this all with most amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean in my backyard because my mom has been working in the Virgin Islands. I don’t need anyone feeling bad for me, but of course I’m going to sometimes feel a little bummed out for myself when I think about the next step.

The other day my mom tried to encourage me. She said, “When employers look at your resume and see that you’re a graduate of Spring 2020 you’ll be remembered.”

 And I hope she is right. Her words did bring comfort. She was telling me yes, everyone is getting hit with hard times, some more than others, but what I’m are going through is not to be discounted, I will not be forgotten, and I’ll get through this. 

It has been my greatest pleasure hosting The College Struggle for all these years. All the knowledge, opportunity, and lasting memories that have come with working at my student run radio station have been tremendous. In one of my final days on campus I lost my Airpods, as I usually do. I used the find my Airpod tracker to locate them at the station. I walked into the studio where I sat every Thursday night from 6-7pm to take in the last time I would walk in there as a student. I spent so much time at the station not only as a host but being a part of the management team for three years serving as Station Manager this year. AS a senior I know I would have to say goodbye but nor this soon, so I’m sad. There won’t be an award ceremony like there is every year for us where I would be able to honor and give props to my so deserving friends and staffers and then we’d go and celebrate later that night. 

I preached so much to my fellow students about holding on, we’re almost to the finish line, we’re almost out of here. And now quarantine has me reminiscing way too much on my good ole days, wishing I could go back to finish out school the way that so many of us intended. The struggle has been real my friends, but none as real as this though one, one so real that it just does not even seem real. But I know that we will be alright as long as we keep on keepin’ on. 

So, for my final sign off. I’m Tina Turner and thank you for tuning in- all these years to The College Struggle on 90.7 the Capstone.

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