It warms my heart to be in community with all of you as we enter the Spring 2021 semester. I know the past year has been very tough for so many of you. Your courage, vulnerability, and perseverance has moved me so deeply, and I am in awe of your collective and individual journeys. The past year felt very much like a calling: a calling for how we show up for ourselves and one another across the intersections of our identities; a calling for how we use our voices politically; a calling to be fully present and own our shared responsibility to racial justice; and a calling to be radical in how we love and care for ourselves fully.
A little about me… I joined the Penn community in August, as the Vice Provost for University Life. My colleagues and I are here for one reason- and that reason is you. I cherish the opportunity to serve and support your flourishing and success here at Penn. My greatest joy is working alongside all of you to co-create transformative experiences for our diverse student community.
I cannot even imagine how last semester (and several months) has impacted you. I found myself in a set of complicated emotions- confusion, grief, optimism, guilt, and so much more. Moving into this new community with a limited opportunity to connect with new people and make new friends took a toll on my well-being. While I feel hopeful, I am deeply aware that the coming semester will still be tough. I have had to ask for help during my own transition, and I hope you know it is okay for you to ask for help, too. The most beautiful thing we can do is be present for one another right now.
Some of you will still be working and learning from your home geographies outside of Philadelphia and, in some cases, outside of the United States. I want you to know that we are here for you, and we are committed to making sure you have access to the support services and community you need to center your well-being. Others of you may live in our College Houses or Greek chapter houses, or off campus in an apartment or house locally. I know this in-person experience will be radically different from what we have all known in the past. Thank you for your continued patience as we unfold into new ways of being in community while following the rapidly evolving public health guidelines.
In partnership with many student leaders, including the Undergraduate Assembly (UA) and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), we hope to provide meaningful, socially distant opportunities to socialize, exercise, and unwind in person outdoors as public health guidelines allow. While this will be a different semester, I am deeply grateful for your creativity and compassion as you to develop new routines, make friends, deepen relationships, and center your joy.
I have a tradition with my daughter that I would like to share with all of you. When I drop her off to school, I say to her, “You are my heart and soul, and I love you very much.” I want you all to know, that you all are the heart and soul of our community, and I love you very much. I look forward to the time when we can be in community together physically and in-person.
With deep love,