A new school year. A fresh start. As Carol Bruess blogged on Friday, it is “a new slate of possibilities and a new set of ideas to be explored and knowledge to be discovered.”
This time of year is exciting for all of us in higher education. Returning students come energized from their busy summers and ready to make a difference on our campus. They are excited to share the details of their summer-abroad experiences, internships or jobs. New students enter with high hopes and unparalleled excitement to begin this special journey called college.
This year marks the beginning of my third year at St. Thomas, and each year I am continually amazed at the caliber of students enrolled here. I recently facilitated the Linkages Mentor training, and it was extremely refreshing to work with this group of sophomores, juniors and seniors who are willing to volunteer as mentors for first-year students. Giving of their time, talent and resources, these students embody the convictions of this university, specifically personal attention and gratitude.
As I prepare for this academic year, I do not have to search hard for inspiration. These students continually serve as an inspiration and remind me of the gifts and privilege we all have in attending or working at St. Thomas. Through their actions and dedication, they exemplify a true “Tommie.”
At a recent event, junior Sahr Brima addressed his peers and cited Matthew 25: 14-30, which is a passage about talents. After he read this passage, he encouraged all of us to use and share our talents with others. To give back to the community. To pay it forward. I thought this to be a beautiful reminder to each of us as we start this school year. We are all here for a reason, and we all have the choice of what we do with our gifts – whether it be volunteering as a mentor, helping out with the Dease Move-In Crew, supporting students or colleagues at events, or something as simple as an encouraging word or to give thanks.
After working for a few public institutions, I can see the difference between them and St. Thomas. Giving back here is not the exception, it is the norm. Students, staff, faculty and administrators make St. Thomas the outstanding institution it is through their personal attention and commitment to its mission. After each event, working with my students or collaborating with my colleagues, I am overwhelmed with pride in UST and the amazing talents of those who are a part of our community.
As we start this new year, let’s commit ourselves to continue to live our mission, to give back and pay it forward!