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Getting comfortable with adversity

2024 graduate reflects on her Marshall experience, from a freshman year marked by COVID to being crowned Miss Marshall
As a college student, that famed walk across the stage to accept a hard-earned diploma while family and friends cheer is a rite of passage.

Semoni Weaver on Marshall University move-in day in 2021

But so is the very beginning of that journey, when an incoming freshman makes the big entrance to college life — packing up the car and stepping into the freedoms that campus offers.

“As an incoming freshman at Marshall, I did not move onto campus until the Spring of 2021,” said Semoni Weaver, a senior multimedia major from Richmond, Va.

That’s why this graduating class is a little different.

“My entire first semester was completed at home in Virginia due to the uncertainties of COVID.” - Semoni Weaver

“My entire first semester was completed at home in Virginia due to the uncertainties of COVID.”

What should have been an exciting time turned tumultuous, with a global pandemic upending any plans made for the spring, summer and fall of 2020.

“I think the biggest frustration for me and probably a lot of other students my age was that we were not getting a traditional college experience as freshmen,” said Weaver. “Most, if not all, of our classes were online and the overall value of a ‘campus life’ experience had drastically decreased.”

After all, there is often more to learn on campus than what is offered in a classroom.

“I wasn’t scared to come to college in the height of the pandemic,” said Weaver. “I was more focused and worried about adapting to the lifestyle of college and navigating that new level of independence on my own for the first time.”

“I was more focused and worried about adapting to the lifestyle of college and navigating that new level of independence on my own for the first time.” - Semoni Weaver

Making the most of her college career, Semoni joined the Student Government Association as a freshman senate apprentice and continued working with SGA throughout her time on campus. She received numerous awards and scholarships and received the honor of becoming a presidential ambassador and social media ambassador for the university. Even in her downtime, she was working as a resident advisor in Freshman South dorm. In 2023, she was awarded the title “RA of the Year” by Housing and Residence Life.

Semoni Weaver, Marshall University's 2023 Miss Marshall

But her most memorable Marshall moment came on the gridiron during the Homecoming game in 2023, when she was crowned by her peers as Miss Marshall.

“The entire journey of preparing my platform, designing info graphics and videos and meeting the most phenomenal people along the way was an indescribable experience,” said Weaver. “I will cherish it for as long as I live.”

“I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and that nothing is guaranteed.” - Semoni Weaver

After graduation, Semoni plans to move to Washington, D.C. to study public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University. Life lessons learned at Marshall and through the difficult dynamic of the pandemic will stick with her.

“I think the adversity I faced throughout college, not even just from freshman year, will 100% be something that I carry with me the rest of my life,” said Weaver. “I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and that nothing is guaranteed.”