It is the first Sunday in December. Despite the April weather and mild southerly winds, the calendar declares that we are in the holiday season and that the semester break for you is just two weeks away. It is project and paper completion time, final exam time, holiday program and activity time, all competing for your time and attention. These moments challenge our resolve to prioritize and defer some of the festivities until the tasks at hand are completed. If you do the balance right, you will truly savor the sweet satisfaction of work well done and the ensuing freedom of your vacation days.
I sincerely appreciated Doug Terry joining us for L in L this past week. Doug was one of the finest students I have known over the past 42 years. He exemplified many of the traits discussed in your leadership sessions. He was a natural leader among his peers based on his intelligence, competence and persistence rather than any self-proclaimed superiority. I had lost contact with him for some years, but it has been gratifying to connect with him and his family, and to watch the maturing of the values we discussed when he was a college student that now manifest in his actions and attitudes as a successful professional. Doug grew the seeds of leadership into a life and career of success and service. He was delighted to spend time with L in L, and I look to him becoming a valued friend of PLC and LOT.
This week our final guest presenter is Mary Melon, the editor and publisher of the Journal Record, the business newspaper often referred to as the Wall Street Journal of Oklahoma. Mary is a highly accomplished professional who plays multiple roles in our state, including encouraging and recognizing women leaders, supporting initiatives that contribute to the growth and development of Oklahoma, and modeling service leadership. She is well known and highly respected across our state and beyond. I am pleased you will have the opportunity to connect with her.
This is the season of programs and events. I want to extend major applause to the leaders and team who produced WinterGlow, UCO’s annual opening celebration of the season. Last Friday after the official lighting of Old North, the festivities enveloped the Nigh Center where hundreds of children and their parents were treated to a wonderland of activities, games and food. I was so proud to once again see you,our students, collaborating to create a magical, memorable evening for all who participated. Special appreciation and thanks to the leadership of the Office of Student Affairs and Dr. Kathryn Gage, event planner and coordinator extraordinaire Courtney James, and the key student leaders who once again made almost challenging event look easier than they ever are.
The crowd-pleasing Boogie Woogie Christmas at the Jazz Lab, memorably created by the College of Fine Arts and Design’s team of professional and student performers, also merits a sustained ovation from all of us. Our talent pool here is amazing.
If you played any role in creating the magic of WinterGlow and/or Boogie Woogie Christmas, thank you and take a bow!
In two weeks over thousand students will cross the stage at Hamilton and I will have the honor of handing them their diploma cover, a symbolic expression of their journey to earn their college degree. This is one of the special times of the year as families gather to smile and cheer for their loved one who “did it”, who persisted often despite formidable obstacles. It is one of the moments we all remember later in life. Keep your “eyes on the prize”, for your diligent efforts will reap continuing rewards, and one of them is earning your degree.
The world continues to swirl with vexing, interconnected issues often defying easy solutions. A key variable in solving problems is the belief that it can be done, and in assembling the coalition of like-minded leaders, servers and volunteers who together create the desired outcome. We cannot be discouraged when the answer does not come quickly or easily.
Nelson Mandela taught us that it can seem impossible until it is done.
You can do it.