Hope in the Unseen

Monday, April 16, 2012

I've been trying all day to say what I want to say, and I just can't figure out how.  For someone who is moderately ok with the writing, there are no words that do it justice.  Just this...

It's funny how a day that goes by unnoticed to almost everyone in the world changed so much.  Five years ago today, I strolled home for lunch on the most perfect Spring day in Waco, Texas.  I was in my first year of grad school at Baylor, studying student affairs and all that is good about the college dream and academia.  I had just finished a Higher Education Culture and Planning class.  I turned on the TV and just like that...my yet-to-really-begin career in higher ed was forever changed.  Because it wasn't just Virginia Tech.  It was every single person who lives, breathes, and loves college life.  

And no, it wasn't the first, and sadly, it wasn't the last.  But it changed higher education.  And it changed me a little bit too.

So now, in this crazy metropolis of Manhattan, I am doing something I insisted I would never do.  I swore I had no interest in getting a doctorate, being one of those boring research people, or writing a dissertation.  I'm still not sure what happened along the way.  Here I am, 28 years old with an approved dissertation topic and a plan for completion.  I will write a 400 page book that only my parents (and maybe not even them) will read.  There were other things that led to my topic, and it is much more personal than simply the knowledge of what happened five years ago today.  But it's not simple, is it?  

So as I research learning from tragedies on college campuses, facing the unthinkable in what is supposed to be the safest, best place imaginable, I think about hope, not fear.  There are days I wonder why I would want to spend the next couple of years so deeply engaged in such awful, horrific events.  Days when the thought of it scares me too much.  But then I walk across a college campus on a perfect sunny day, full of students waiting for their real lives to begin, and know that is exactly how it should be.  Hope.

"Tragedy is the author of hope."
(Leading with Soul, Bolman and Deal)

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