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Waiting on spring

A message from the Vice President for Student Affairs - November 3, 2020

Dear Hokie Families,

There are a few things that growing older is teaching me, but perhaps none more important than that life is very much an adventure of seasons. The ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and pains of living are predictable. If the changing seasons are a metaphor for life, we understand that the glorious beauty of a Blacksburg fall must also give way to gray, cloudy, and cold days that we locally refer to as “Bleaksburg.” February, the shortest month of all, always feels like the longest to me. I think this is why I’ve learned not to take for granted these stunning fall days.

Candidly, this pandemic season has been an extended winter. Cold, hard, relentless. Yet underneath it all, spring’s brilliant seeds have been dispersed in abundance. Like many parents, I feel the weight of sending two sons to college during a long winter. It has been especially disheartening that one began and the other will finish college during such a harsh season. Yet, I’m leaning in with faith, because life has taught me there are seeds buried during this season that will surprise and astonish and nourish the days ahead.

Here’s one thing I know for sure. As with the seasons, there is no controlling the timing or the transition of one to another. But we can control how we relate to the season we’re in, even as we wait for the change in weather patterns. What is within our ability to influence in this season?

As I often do, I asked a few of our students for their advice. Here’s what they offered about how they’re going to make it through:

  • Learn something new. One student said he’d always wanted to learn to fiddle. So, he rented one and is taking weekly lessons.
  • Build a fitness routine. One student shared she’d never really been committed to her physical well-being. She now goes to McComas Hall every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Start a new friendship. It’s easier than one might think, another student offered.” I just asked if we could agree to talk twice a week. Establishing a routine seemed a critical component.”
  • Serve. Another student reflected, “I find caring about others makes me less focused on current inconveniences.”
  • Schedule a conversation with their favorite professor. “Yep. I just decided I’m going to get to know my professors better.”
  • Make a counseling appointment. One student shared he’d never gone to counseling and thought, “I think I’m going to get to know myself better.”
  • Acquire good winter clothes. This came from several students who have decided to make the best of the actual weather and who remain committed to traverse the pandemic as safely as possible.

You know, it occurs to me that in the long, bleak, winter months, none of us really worries that this weather is going to last forever. As sure as we know in the night that day will break, we all know that spring is coming—some years a little sooner, other years a little later. But it does come. This strikes me as trustworthy advice for our pandemic and personal gray seasons as well. Life is an adventure of changing seasons. Spring will come.

With hope,

Fran Shushok signature

Frank Shushok Jr.

Vice President for Student Affairs