Learning. It’s how we become more informed. Our eyes and ears open, our mind and perceptions expand, our ability to become better at who we are and what we do grows. It inspires us and makes us more resilient.
Last weekend, I attended a scholarship event hosted by the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women. CEW recognized 54 scholars, both women and men, whose educations were interrupted or slowed by any number of reasons. The scholars stood, one by one, as the presenter spoke briefly about the educational path and the challenges each one faced and overcame along the way. These people are master jugglers!
The stories are remarkable. Most have chosen a degree program and research focus derived from the effects of personal experiences that could easily have overwhelmed them. The perseverance and passion these adults demonstrate for finding a way to change one small piece of the world is inspiring.
One of the scholars at my table is in the last year of a six-year PhD program in social work and psychology. Her research focuses on the collective trauma experienced by indigenous peoples, especially survivors of abuse in the Indian Residential School System. Others focus on neuroscience, environmental justice and policy, criminal justice, architecture and so many amazing disciplines. Their paths have been interrupted by family, cancer, stroke, immigration, and many other issues. But each one has maintained a focus on their path, their future, their ability to effect change.
As we assimilate the news of the day, often filled with horrific images, stories of need, or irritating rhetoric, it is refreshing to be reminded that there are many people with dreams who keep moving forward, undeterred by sorrow, pain, or disappointment.
We often grouse about the irritations, distractions, and challenges we face each day in our jobs, dealing with people, deadlines, and time-consuming opportunities. Yet, we also have a strong community to support and encourage us. Through SMPS, there are learning opportunities, such as The Pinnacle Experience from October 16-18 and the Roadmap to Certification in early November, that can inspire us and make us more resilient.
As you start each day, focus on your dream. Find a way around the obstacles. Develop tools to help you be resilient so you can bounce back from adversity. And as you continue to amaze me, always remember you have the opportunity to inspire and encourage others!
SMPS President Nancy Usrey, FSMPS, CPSM, is associate vice president of HNTB in Plano, TX. She can be reached at [email protected].