Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Making a Difference – February 26, 2021
February 26, 2021
This week’s message is of a more personal note, a perspective not typically pronounced in my public communications. As many of you are aware, my beloved husband, Keith Miles, passed away earlier this month. My family and I received an outpouring of beautiful expressions of condolence that were heartfelt, empathetic, and moving. Many shared their own stories, which were inspirational not only in their content but in their spirit of openness and concern.
Our country is home to over 300 million people, each of us with our own unique experiences, perspectives and beliefs. It feels as though these differences have been amplified in recent years. Yet most people have in common the experience of grief and difficulties at some point in their lives. It is during such times that empathy often binds us, resulting in unexpected and uplifting experiences. It can be difficult to accept care from others, yet such interactions lift both the helped and the helper.
While we will always value the messages we received on a personal level, we also recognize that they provide insights that parallel present times. Your words of support were a light leading out of darkness, just as we, as a society, are beginning to see the light of re-emergence following a year of pandemic darkness. Your messages of hope are a source of strength and a reminder that through our struggles and resilience we emerge – always different, but hopefully stronger and better. That is how we move forward as a society, and as individuals.
This week we honored our Achieving the Dream Scholar, Estefany Palencia. She shared her own personal journey in her poem I Am From. Starting with the cultural and personal horrors she faced in her homeland of El Salvador, she describes her own re-emergence:
“…I am from mi Tios who love and adopted me
Who never went to college but wanted me to go
I’ve gone from almost not going to school because of money
To being a full 2-year scholarship recipient
I’ve gone from almost taking a gap year because I wanted to fight my battles alone
To learning to ask for help and taking advantage of many opportunities at my door…”
In the spirit of resilience and community, and as we close an edifying month of Black History programming celebrating outstanding service award recipients Dr. Erik Fortune, Ms. Dawn Gillins, student Kimani Lafond, and faculty member Towanda Mathurin, I am also reminded of the powerful words of Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, in her poem Miracle of Morning where she writes of healing stating that,
“…While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,
Our people have never been more closely tethered.
The question isn’t if we can weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend.
Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend.”
Thank you for being light in the lives of our students and for each other. Our collective work represents our North Star as we make a difference in the lives of others in ways that we may not have even imagined.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles