My dear students,
I hope that you live.
We’ve found ourselves in a perilous time. My college has extended spring break, perhaps yours has closed down completely. The evening news feels a bit like a coronavirus casualty report each night. I hope you are safe and — literally — I hope that you live. But even more so, I hope that you live.
I hope that a new learning environment helps you determine your passion. The newly online class that you dread logging into at night? The one where you miss your professor, your classroom, and the ideas you shared? I hope you use this opportunity to decide which one you truly care about.
I hope that your life at home is ok. I hope you find hope — in your family, in your friends, in your faith, in your hobbies, or whatever gives you joy. I hope you are well taken care of. I hope that you find a renewed sense of community and life wherever you are. If you do not find those things, I hope that you make plans to reach out.
I hope that you discover how to be truly happy. That happiness lies only temporarily in consumption or grades or parties. I hope that a simpler life — whenever we find it — suits you well. I hope that the pet you left behind when you came to campus can bring fresher life than my classes ever can. We train you for the big wide world, but I hope this new environment trains you for the small and meaningful world.
I hope that in the days and weeks ahead you learn about yourself. I hope that you learn about the world. I hope that this time kindles within you a desire to seek justice for the wrongs that COVID has exposed. I hope that you become a leader for change after this change passes.
I hope that you do not give up on what you love. If your choir can no longer meet, I hope you can sing for your sibling. If your sports team cannot play, I hope that you text workout plans with your teammates. If your research group must work remotely, I hope you share together the tribulations of the research process and perhaps make a new discovery previously-interrupted by the fast-paced days of classes. If your sorority house sits empty, I hope you FaceTime your sisters and build your friendship across community borders. We must be willing to admit that social isolation can be difficult, but we must not be willing to give up what makes us feel alive.
Finally, my dear students, I hope that you love and are loved. It is times like these that show us the importance of love. What a thing to learn and experience in your college years! What a wonderful new world we have to learn about together. You may miss the love in cold news reports. You may miss the love of your friends and supporters at school. It is still there, if we look for it. I hope that you thrive with this love. And I hope that you live.