Today is my birthday. And I woke up feeling weary in spite of bright blue skies. I think it is becoming increasingly hard to shake the trauma that infiltrates our subconscious, taking its toll. Locally, nationally, and internationally, there is violence, injustice, and climate chaos. It seems we have lost moderation, civility, self-control, and connectedness. I think in shades of grey and I know it is not reasonable to tell people just “to stop” or hope that people can dig deep, find kindness, be better. I also know that true support of our students, staff, faculty, and loved ones is not easy, words can seem empty, actions muted. So, what is one to do? For me it is trying to shift my thinking to glimmers of hope and moments of gratitude. On a personal level, today I woke up with a foster failure chihuahua on my pillow and later walked (with coffee mug in hand) a truly joy-filled shepherd as she pounced, bounded, and delighted in the lightly snow-covered Palouse.
On a professional level — these are just a few of the things that brought hope to me at the College of Veterinary Medicine this month. We hosted an annual Research Symposium and students engaged in the time-honored tradition of sharing their science discoveries on poster board. Science plays out small discovery by small discovery until a picture emerges that leaps us forward. Research in the life sciences is critical to the college – the intersection of discovery and the public good. I loved watching students talk and faculty engage with them and each other. Faculty won awards for research and mentorship. These events make our community stronger (and smarter!).
In one evening of hope, I hosted the participants of our beloved Diagnostic Challenges at my home. I fretted about not having enough space … but no one seemed to notice. Small, tight groups conversed, laughed, and reunited. Participants in the Diagnostic Challenges include veterinarians, alumni, and family members of vet students. They are united in their passion for this program and the opportunity it provides for our students. They love giving back … and I am grateful for the cohort of veterinarians who openly love their job and our profession. We don’t talk enough about that.
Another powerful glimmer of hope was when I saw our own Thumbi Mwangi sporting Coug gear and standing next to Bill Gates at the University of Nairobi at an event focused on innovating for food security and climate change in Africa.
Our global health program and Africa-based faculty epitomize outreach and, yes, hope.
And finally, I meet with college faculty, staff, students, and leadership, well, daily. And they inspire me. I can’t believe how much people care and how much people give of themselves at WSU. Building programs, solving problems, making things better, listening. I have been thinking about Leo Bustad more these days and the reverence for life that filled his teachings. Our college is steeped in this tradition of compassion and excellence, I am proud. I feel better.