I’ve seen people post “30 days of gratitude” during this month of Thanksgiving and it prompted me to share what makes me grateful to be a part of the Trinity College family.
My first two items of thanks may be obvious from my inconsistent posts: 1) I am thankful for Trinity student bloggers who submitted content while I was on the road meeting prospective applicants; and 2) I am thankful for the rejuvenation that came with the Thanksgiving break!
So before this month of Thanksgiving runs out, I want to share why I am so thankful to work at Trinity College. In a sentence, it would be: I enjoy that we challenge and support one another to rise to our individual sense of excellence and I believe Trinity is truly a unique place to do that.
Yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds like a blurb from a brochure you would find in our lobby. It’s an occupational hazard. So let me get real and break it down for you.
1) Trinity’s location in a city means that we are challenged by real need and responsibilities surrounding our campus. We don’t stop at theorizing and philosophizing in what can sometimes be the self-congratulatory environment of the classroom. Every time I hear about a project that takes students out into the neighborhood to learn from and impact a community, I feel such a sense of pride. I know a Trinity Theater and Dance professor who takes her dancers to work with incarcerated women. The students bring these stories out of the prison setting to offer them as a performance, lending a voice to those who feel they no longer have a voice and a vision to those of us who have forgotten to consider those stories. That kind of expression and experience is so inspiring to me.
2) We consider, debate, agree to disagree, but are accessible to one another. It’s not always easy, and certainly not always comfortable, but the Trinity community continues its journey of self-reflection and that agonizing process called, “change.” While we have long-standing and well-loved traditions, we also strive to better ourselves in every aspect we can. As a graduate student, I attended a huge state university. I had great opportunities, but I remember how insignificant I felt and how difficult it could be to advocate for myself as a student. At Trinity, my door is open to students. I know them and I value them – their opinion, ideas, and insights. I believe that is the pervading atmosphere on this campus. When discussions are needed we have Town Hall meetings where all are invited to speak, we also meet as administrators and staff to talk about ways to support our student body, and we make changes when needed. Being a college steeped in tradition, we might not be the fastest at making these changes, but we put a lot of thought behind our decisions.
3) Inspiration is everywhere! When I sit down to talk with students, I am in awe of what they balance. The activities, academic pursuits, leadership positions, research, performances, internships, study abroad experiences, and the required work ethic always inspire me. I love to see the inner light turn on when students talk about their latest discoveries, accomplishments, and sometimes just the FUN TIMES. I know they are having the real college experience when I hear their stories. I am impressed by the conscientiousness of the staff and administration of Trinity, and the accessibility and passion for teaching that our faculty members have. Without them, the students would not have those “inner light” experiences. And as for my inner light: I am honored to work somewhere where I can take an hour to learn about academic trends, scientific research, see a performance, or participate in a meditation project. I realize how few people in this world enjoy a work setting so rich with inspiration.
So, really, that’s just the beginning of my gratitude list. One important addition to my list would be meeting prospective applicants while visiting secondary schools. They often impress me in the same ways Trinity students inspire me. Except when I meet them, I think, “Just wait until you get to Trinity College. You’ll be so thankful you are here.”