There are many defining moments in life. Some are large and publicly known to many others, while some are small and known only to a few people. Some involve great courage, and some involve great resolve. Some defining moments change the world, and some moments change one person’s world. Many of us dream of “THAT” moment, the one that defines us, where we take a stand and show the world what we’re made of — our honesty, our integrity, our courage, our character. The truth is, very few of us may ever have a world-changing moment, but we all have moments that change someone’s world. The question is: What do we do when faced with such a moment, and then how do we move forward in a different way?
The last three years feel as if we’ve been in a series of defining moments, and our responses to these moments have changed at least one person’s world. Our responses to these moments — our actions — have helped students stay in school, propelled them to graduate and/or transfer, provided them with food, housing, gas money, and more time to complete homework or make up a test. These seemingly small things have changed someone’s world. Some of us have done this on a large scale, but most of us have done it one student at a time.
There are ripple effects of meeting the moment. These effects compel us to move forward so that we come to understand that meeting the moment is more than being aware of the issue — it’s facing the status quo and saying enough is enough. When we step up to meet the moment, we start moving forward. We help our students move forward.
For our community colleges, that moment is NOW! This moment in time is THE moment when we show up and take a stand for our students, their families, and our communities. This is the time to seize the moment, rise to the occasion, take a stand for equity and social justice, and demonstrate the inherent value of higher education to advance both the individual and public good. What does that look like at each of our colleges? Will we take action to dismantle structural racism? Will we find ways to provide — at scale — housing for the unhoused, food for the hungry, or streamlined educational pathways so students can focus on learning rather than surviving? This is one of those “meeting the moment” times. What will you do with your opportunity? If you can’t take big steps to meet the moment, can you at least meet the moment for the students in your class or program? Can you extend grace with accountability? Extend compassion with classroom rigor? Extend love with mentoring relationships?
This year, let’s contemplate together how we are meeting our students where they are and making connections that help them feel nurtured, valued, and loved. Let’s examine our practices and challenge ourselves to move forward with great resolve and courage for our students, our communities, and ourselves.