Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Springing Forth Toward the Finish Line – March 19, 2021
March 19, 2021
As we continue to reimagine our future at Westchester Community College, our mission and values continue to guide our work. The tragic violence that occurred recently in the Atlanta Metro Area is a horrific reminder that attacks against Asian Americans have increased by 150% over the past year. These incidents remind us that we need to remain vigilant and advocate for all members of our community – especially marginalized communities that have faced discrimination and dehumanization as part of our nation’s history.
Westchester Community College affirms its commitment to the Asian American community and works to ensure that all members of this community are valued, celebrated, and provided the tools for success. We also recognize that these tragic events can cause added stress to our community members, on top of the ongoing pandemic, economic uncertainty, and the daily stresses we must endure. We encourage members of our community to seek the necessary resources available at WCC – from mental health counseling to financial assistance – to ensure their health, safety and continued march towards their ultimate goals. We are #VIKINGSTRONG!
Our safety efforts also continue as part of our COVID-19 response. We did not have the traditional spring break this year in order to minimize coronavirus exposure. Instead, we experienced a year with new norms during a time that was anything but normal. We focused inward to ensure that students have all they need to persist. We rallied to ensure we had what was required to do our jobs. And we have worked to get and keep students enrolled and on track to their academic goals. As a community, we focused our collective efforts on our mission, and we collaborated to push ourselves through the daily tasks that could help us all endure and overcome during this challenging season.
For many of us, this is easier said than done. We have faced overwhelming personal challenges while bringing the best of ourselves to Westchester Community College. I know the effort you bring to your work. I hear you and understand that it’s not always easy to stay mission-focused and to put aside our own needs and self-care to help students through difficult days. Some have adjusted to the new feasibility of remoteness, but others have struggled. Some are set to motivate students through the spring and toward commencement. Others are expressing fatigue and frustration. I see you and I hear you. We must continue to press our way and schedule time for respite so we can stay the course.
Plans for our fall semester are underway with our College leadership working across all units to follow guidance from the CDC, Westchester County Department of Health, and SUNY, and ensure a safe and secure return to in-person instruction and work to meet the needs of our college community. We have learned much over this past year about creating a more adaptable campus that offers our students greater flexibility in class times and access to campus as they juggle work and family commitments.
This Chronicle of Higher Ed piece shares ideas on creating innovative teaching and learning spaces as we consider the post-pandemic campus. Special thanks to Rob Cirillo, Janice Gilroy, and Scott Sullivan who have been at the forefront of our efforts to protect our college community, for their leadership and expertise in our response to the pandemic.
Let’s do all we can to help students spring forth toward semester completion, commencement, and what lies ahead in the fall.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles