“These are the moments that define us.”
I still remember the day my mentor shared these words with me in McClain Hall 10 years ago. Challenging times and how we respond to them determine who we are. The past few years have brought monumental challenges for all of us. Yet, for better or worse, these difficult times have indeed reminded us all of what matters. Whatever your role here, I hope you know that you are appreciated and have a place in the Truman State University community. Welcome back, and congratulations on successfully completing another semester.
To our students: know that all of us at the University want you to succeed and thrive here — yes, even your most difficult professors. Please ask if you ever need help or extra time to complete an assignment. I cannot guarantee that you’ll get what you want every time, but the worst that could happen is your instructor saying no, and they might even surprise you with more flexibility than you expected.
With the arrival of a new year, we will inevitably look back at the past twelve months, and I encourage you to reflect on how you treated others. A little kindness can make a world of difference. You never know how big an impact one small act of compassion or one kind remark could have on a person you never even knew was listening. Few, if any, of us will single-handedly change the course of the University’s history. But our collective actions and treatment of one another define who we are as a community. Surely we owe it to ourselves to treat each other as neighbors and colleagues, lifting each other up and helping when we can. The greatest goal we can achieve is helping to remind someone that they are seen and valued, just the way they are. To show them that they have purpose, meaning and always deserve to be treated with kindness, decency and respect. Although my job can be challenging, I am incredibly fortunate. I get to live and share these values every day. Even in the worst of times, I can still tell our students they belong, what they feel is valid, and they are appreciated and worthy of every opportunity they can find. Few others are half as lucky. I am forever grateful for the chance to serve in this way, and I thank you all for trusting me with this responsibility.
This year I challenge each of you to practice a conscious sense of kindness and gratitude. Share your kind thoughts. Express your appreciation for your friends and family. Let your friends and loved ones know what they mean to you. Perhaps we can create a more empathetic and supportive campus community together. If nothing else, you never know what difference a single kind act can make.
Ryan Neely Institutional Compliance Officer