The following is an open letter to the Kellogg Community College family and community from Dr. Adrien L. Bennings, President of KCC.
Pause. Reflect. Reset.
Facing the Certain Uncertainties of Life
Although I serve in the capacity of President of Kellogg Community College, today I write to you as someone who is simply human. Like many of you, I am a mother, a wife, a partner, a friend, a community member and so much more. However, we are interconnected through the human side of who we are, our lived experiences, our inherent values and our distinct differences. With so much going on across the nation, I want to encourage each of you to pause, reflect and reset.
Have you ever viewed a movie with a scene where someone is at a standstill on a sidewalk yet the traffic, people and other activities are moving like a scripted blur in the background? Hopefully, you get the picture. That’s where life has found many of us today. One moment, going about our daily routines, and the next moment, forced to pause while life seemingly goes on.
Pause means to stop temporarily. Life has certainly caused many of us to slow down, change from the norm and temporarily alter our activities for our well-being and the safety of others. If any of you are like me, you are always on the go, always having a million things to do and never enough time. But today, I’ve hit the pause button. Although not by choice, this life interruption has brought me to a place of understanding how simple freedoms can be overlooked, if it weren’t for times like these. I pause to think about what’s important to me, how this will impact my life going forward and what I can learn from this.
Many of us, at some point in time, have looked at ourselves in the mirror and found ourselves more critical than appreciative of what we saw staring back at us. After all, isn’t a part of our nature as humans to point out perceived imperfection? Or is this just a flaw of human nature? When this is all over and the storm has passed, how will you reflect on this time when our nation was shaken by fear of the uncertain?
To reflect means to think deeply or carefully. The one image that sticks out in my mind when it comes to reflection is The Thinker, an image of a man sitting on a rock with his chin resting on one hand as though deep in thought. As we reflect on this time, how will you see yourself? I see myself as someone not paralyzed by fear of the unknown but strengthened in my beliefs and invigorated by the sense of togetherness and teamwork throughout our community. Although life seems to be on pause, we will overcome and life will go on.
Have you ever played a game and found that you were losing or weren’t making the progress you expected and hit the reset button (several times, as a matter of fact)? That’s where we are today. Life has a way of taking us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to reset, especially after significant disruptions.
Reset means to set again or anew. While it may or may not change the outcome, it definitely means that we have another opportunity to do it again, get it right, or simply keep moving forward. Once the dust settles and all is said and done, I hope that we each will be able to reset. Reset in our minds and in our behaviors, and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose.
What does this mean for KCC?
There have been many tough decisions made over the past few weeks because of the pandemic. As an administrator, I’ve had to take several pauses to determine what decisions needed to be made, how those decisions will impact our students, and how we can maintain critical operations in the interim.
This national disruption has certainly transformed and shifted the way we do things. For many of our students this has meant now having to take a class online when you prefer face to face. This also means missing the opportunity to attend your commencement ceremony, something you’ve worked so hard for, a life celebration and rite of passage. And for many of you, this means not having a place to meet up with friends to eat, study or simply hang out playing games. Although I am known for taking risks and challenging the norms, there is no risk worth taking to compromise the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
KCC has served students and been an integral part of the community for more than 60 years. Since that time, we’ve weathered many storms, economic challenges and vast uncertainties. However, with the support of our donors and supporters, we’ve never missed a step in providing financial support and opportunities for our students; through the leadership of our Board, we’ve persevered through many tough times; and with the diligence of our faculty and staff, we’ve never lost sight of our mission – to enrich the lives of our community and individual learners.
More recently, I’ve stood alone in the hallways of the KCC campus – no students, no background chatter, doors locked, nothing but silence. As I reflect, I realize just how much I miss the vibrancy of life that each person brings to the campus. While I don’t know what tomorrow brings, I do know that we remain committed to providing quality learning for individual learners. As we reflect on the impact to KCC, we will ever be BRUIN STRONG, forging pathways of success for our students and solidifying partnerships throughout the communities we serve for a better tomorrow.
Where do we go from here?
This pandemic has definitely put a pause on life. The impact will linger for some time and many of us will find ourselves reflecting on how it has impacted our lives, families, communities and nation. As we prepare for the reset let us:
- Remember our nation as resilient, able to recover and withstand such trying times
- Value our lives and relationships with others as precious and irreplaceable
- See ourselves as enduring, not yielding to fear and able to move forward in the face of difficulty
So with that, I’ll bring this message to a close and remember, “Together, we are remarkable.”
Adrien L. Bennings