Is it me, or does Thanksgiving feel different this year? I think back to last year, when we were all mired in the uncertainty of the pandemic, unsure of how long it would last and what the aftermath of this unprecedented global experience would reveal.
Easing our way out, with all the lessons and experiences we’ve collected along the way, the fog of uncertainty is giving way to clarity, and this year, my Thanksgiving-heightened gratitude is somehow fuller and deeper than previous years.
Working in education requires that one always be open to learning, and I am grateful that my learning is taking place here, at Bay Path, and now, as we are reimagining the post-pandemic world we want to create and live in and looking to our students to guide us there. By sharing their views and their passions so vibrantly, by working so hard and caring so deeply, they invigorate and motivate me, and offer us all the opportunity to continually reexamine and reflect upon our world.
We are a university that provides women with a career-focused education, one that prepares them to enter and thrive in a professional world that traditionally hasn’t been designed to accommodate women’s lives. When work, life and family all compete for our limited and precious time, there is no winner.
The conversation about pandemic upheaval has centered on the ways women have been shortchanged by long entrenched values and systems we have all upheld as “normal.” We know that “normal” hasn’t really ever worked for women—because we’ve been listening to our co-workers, friends, sisters, mothers and grandmothers talk to each other for generations. Weathering a pandemic in 2021 has demonstrated that “normal” doesn’t actually work for men, children, or businesses, either.
We’ve been granted unprecedented permission to think carefully about what we want from the future. We’re asking ourselves what is truly important, dreaming bigger about the new world we want to create, acknowledging how precious our time is, and prioritizing the people we want to spend it with. Our students are getting to experience this moment of profound change, and their voices are part of the chorus calling for it.
These challenges to “normal” and dreams for a new world are all unfolding at Bay Path as we’re in the midst of entering our 125th year. As we plan the celebration, I’ve been looking through our photo archives. We have an amazing collection of beautiful, early photographs of Bay Path women, preparing for secretarial jobs. Their tailored clothing, high heels, and impeccable hair convey the expectations of the day. The story not overtly told in the pictures is that those secretarial roles provided women with unprecedented access to professional jobs, and in turn, to the economic power of a steady paycheck; they were the beginning of a different future.
We know that in 1951, our well-coiffed, well-mannered students wanted change; that they talked about it amongst themselves; that they saw it for their daughters and granddaughters, because here we are today, in a changed world.
We are all part of history, and we are all creating tomorrows, and being right here, right now is something to be immensely grateful for.
I wish you a happy Thanksgiving amongst loved ones, and a peaceful and relaxing break.