What a journey it has been! By now, you are settling into your living communities, among new and old friends, and ready for the upcoming school year. Spending time with many of you during move-in, I have been so moved by your stories of sacrifice and triumph, and our community is that much more precious because you are a part of it.
As we begin the school year, I want to share some hopes with you.
I hope you care fiercely for one another. Everyone around us is emerging from the past 18 months with some dimension of grief, loss, and hope. Our circumstances may have been different, and our collective commitment to one another will be a great source of healing and inspiration as we co-create a caring community together. We may not know one another’s stories, so let’s be present, with compassion and empathy.
I hope you embrace your magic and offer gratitude to those who have supported you along the way. Take a moment to thank your family, friends, teachers, and mentors. They are going through a transition too. Take a moment to thank our facilities, housekeeping, and dining partners who readied all of our spaces and nourished us. To our first-year students and those in the college houses, thank your RAs, GRAs, house managers, and PHINS – they created a caring and welcoming experience for all of us. Take a moment to thank the countless faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to prepare for your arrival back to campus. Finally, take a moment to thank our health care providers who continue to nimbly support the collective health and well-being of our community as we emerge through the pandemic.
I hope you ask for help. All of us are here for you. We are an interconnected community ready to support your thriving at Penn. Go to office hours and meet your faculty. Talk to your academic advisors. If you live in the college houses, get to know the house directors and faculty directors. Connect with educators to learn about new strategies for studying and learning, and seek out tutoring support. Meet the counselors and health care providers in our Wellness Center. Asking for help is a sign of strength and courage.
I hope you share the gift of community. We are a residential community on purpose. Embrace the purposeful collisions of life stories in your residential communities. Get involved on campus through the breadth of student organizations, cultural communities, spiritual groups, performing arts groups, and recreational sports. Get involved beyond campus through our civic engagement and community partnerships. Join me at our athletics events! Be a source of joy for one another.
I hope you nourish your curiosity. We are so fortunate to have resources that allow us to explore and unfold into our passions. Consider engaging in mentored research with faculty. Talk to an advisor in career services to learn more about internships, graduate school readiness, and your life beyond Penn. Try something different!
I send you so much love and hope before we begin classes tomorrow. When the sun rises tomorrow, let it be a reminder of the shining light within each of you.