Doing the right thing

By Kathy Gress, director, Columbia College-Springfield

With all that has happened over the past year, it’s hard to craft upbeat narratives. Like most everyone, what can I say about 2020 without breathing a heavy sigh? Yet as we begin 2021, I am hopeful. A fellow director passed along a wonderful quote to complement the arrival of the New Year:

“Hope begins in the dark. The stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” – novelist Anne Lamott

This is the perfect description of what you, our students, have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic. As numbers increase and stay at home orders prevail, you may not feel anything other than stress, but you all are amazing human beings! Despite the fact that the world around you has many more challenges than it did a year ago, you are persevering and continuing to pursue your college degree. That is no easy task.

Take a minute and feel good about yourselves! Think about all you have accomplished in the last year:

  • You connected and collaborated online at a distance. These skills are invaluable in today’s world.
  • You worked independently and exercised self-initiative, but had to do so in a home environment that is likely not always distraction-free (am I right?). Many of you have spouses working from home, had to begin homeschooling your own children, and had to adjust to rigorous stay-at-home directives (all while donning DIY haircuts).
  • You learned to manage in a different social environment than any of us have ever experienced. The strange physical distancing we must employ may have made you feel remote and cut off from peers. No more hugs or handshakes and smiles are hidden behind facemasks, but you quickly learned to survive and thrive within an unusual set of social mores.
  • You learned to cope with a variety of newly-imposed stressors – concerns about your own or a loved one’s health, job or financial insecurity, and children going back to a public-school environment, just to name a few.

Despite all of these challenges, you seized the opportunity to continue your education. You chose to do the right thing. When the pandemic disrupted your life, you did not put the pursuit of your degree on hold. We are so proud of the way you continue to adapt to this “new normal” every day. Your creativity and positivity will get you through this difficult time. Though you may not be able to envision it right now, I can say with assurance you will be stronger and well equipped to deal with whatever you face in the future. Like the quote above says – you are waiting, watching, and working, not giving up. Your dawn WILL come and you will complete your degree.

Thank you for trusting and believing in Columbia College. I wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2021!