Patriots at Work: A renewed sense of hope

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I think about new years past, when I returned to campus in January, coffee in hand, refreshed from the time off.

For many of us, winter break is a treasured benefit of working at Mason. It's the finish line of a busy semester. A sacred time when we can reset our minds and bodies for the new year ahead.

How do we turn the page to a new year when we are still recovering from—and absorbing—the wear and tear of 2020?

To find a renewed sense of hope, I am reflecting on what we accomplished in the face of adversity.

At Mason, we rose to the challenges of 2020. We transformed processes on a dime, leveraged technology to work efficiently, and found new ways to support students who needed it more than ever.

The state hiring freeze on staff positions meant that all of this was accomplished with fewer people to do the work. Plus, many departments were already understaffed before the pandemic hit.

Some of the wear and tear of the past year cannot be measured as easily. It’s the ongoing emotional cost of proctoring virtual school, living without child care, coping with loneliness, or worrying about loved ones affected by the virus.

As we turn a corner into this new year, let’s continue to show patience and empathy for one another. By doing this, we strengthen our collective resolve to move forward.

We can also focus on what falls within our control: our own behaviors. Mason is ramping up its commitment to surveillance testing. If we can participate, we should do so. We must continue practicing physical distancing, wearing face coverings on campus, and following public health guidance to keep ourselves and others safe.

The past year has been a challenge. It’s okay to be tired. At the same time, we at Mason are resilient. You can see it in the work we do every day.

I always find some comfort in the cyclical passage of time at a university. We are a part of something big, and the university's work continues. We'll always have the fresh start of a new semester and the promise it brings. My fellow Patriots are one of my greatest sources of hope for 2021.