Under the current stressful COVID-19 circumstances, I hope you are safe, healthy, and socially connected! We all have a role in each other’s success and well-being, now more than ever and in more ways than one can imagine!
During this time of social isolation and shelter-in-place expectations, I was ruminating over why I do what I do and why it matters. When I joined NCU in the Fall of 2018, I was excited by NCU’s open enrollment policy which made graduate education accessible to all. This university offered a unique one-to-one mentoring/instruction approach for student learning that piqued my interest. I was enthused by the fact that I could learn about the online education world and familiarize myself with best practices in technology-based teaching and learning even as I worked from home.
Once I started work, I learned more about our students--the population and communities we are serving—our students who are making a substantial personal and financial commitment when they choose us. I learned that they are geographically dispersed, looking to have a positive educational experience, a connection with their university, their faculty, advisors, leaders, and their fellow students. I gleaned that our students are adult learners, veterans, single parents, and many are from historically under-served and under-represented communities. They are all doing their best to manage their jobs, families, and lives while trying to successfully learn and earn a degree that could help them better their lives and their communities. I began to appreciate how many of our students are care-givers; they give so much even as they struggle to survive and thrive. Many of our students are possibly first-generation graduate students who are coming back to education after a long break; they are trying to break barriers to their career advancement with this degree they are seeking. They are dealing with numerous challenges even as they are equipping themselves overcome those very challenges. They give it their all, in pursuit of success, with a full commitment to realizing their dreams for themselves. I am inspired by our students and I seek to support them better, engage them in their learning, and enable their success to the best of my ability. Their success and well-being is our success, after all.
During my time here, I have also come to know and value my colleagues—committed peers who are also often juggling a care-giver status, (single) parenthood, multiple jobs, financial burdens, and/or other possible life circumstances that have to be managed and prioritized—now more than ever, given COVID-19. Yet every day, they choose to rise to a calling to serve, a calling to be invested in helping others thrive. I believe, just like many of my colleagues, that I work at NCU because I want to contribute and make a difference. I want to serve our students and communities. I want to grow and maintain geographically unimpeded friendships in this distance education family.
Today, I feel lucky that I get to bask in the glow of our students walking down the aisle and across the stage, as they graduate; I am privileged that I get to witness the pride, happiness, and success written on their faces as their friends, family, and well-wishers cheer them on. I feel immensely satisfied knowing that I contribute in some small way to the realization of our students’ dreams; I have a tiny hand in their accomplishment of earning that degree certificate with their name on it. Through our students’ happiness and joy, I relive the elation I experienced when I achieved those milestones for myself. I am excited for our students and connect with their feelings of hope as they close this chapter, begin the next, and aspire to bigger and brighter things! At NCU, we triumph together!