A Few Of My Favorite Things… This Year

It has been easy to overlook the blessings in our life as we’ve endured a long year of a global pandemic.

We might be tempted to focus on the events we missed, the hugs we did not exchange, the traditions that suddenly moved to a virtual platform, the trips that had to be canceled.

So, I want to take a moment here, at the end of our academic year, and reflect on some of my favorite things that did happen at Dalton State despite the pandemic.

  1. Generous community support: In October, Dalton State held our first Giving Day, and we were reminded once again what a caring and supportive community we live in. We raised nearly double our goal because of the generosity of our friends and alumni. These funds will help support 46 different projects across campus. Despite the loss of revenues in tuition and state budget allocations, Dalton State will continue to deliver a high-quality education because of this community support. Even during this pandemic, our donors have continued to support the work of educating the next generation of leaders for Northwest Georgia and beyond.
  2. Roadrunners serve our community: Our students give back to our community every year and this year is no exception. Whether it is part of an internship, a service-learning opportunity or simply to make our world a better place, Roadrunners demonstrate service to our community routinely. As one example, Dalton State participated in a national event known as “The Big Event.” The Big Event is a one-day service project where Dalton State students and employees give back to their community. This year’s was in April. Forty-nine volunteers were distributed across six volunteer sites in Dalton, including the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Lakeshore Community Garden, Providence Ministries, City of Refuge and Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center. Among the Dalton State volunteers were representatives from Greek Life, the Honors Program, Omicron Delta Kappa (“ODK”) honor society and the Latin American Student Organization. We are preparing our students to be the future leaders of our community.
  3. Financial literacy: Using funds from our federal Title V grant, we were able to open a financial fitness lab this spring in the Dean of Students Office. This is part of our overall financial literacy efforts to ensure our students know how to manage their personal finances and not accumulate excessive debt. Fortunately, because Dalton State is one of the most affordable four-year colleges in the nation, ranked #23 by Business Insider for Best Return on Investment, our students are already demonstrating good management of their finances. We are always proud to brag two-thirds of our students graduate from Dalton State with no student loan debt.
  4. Doing our part to navigate COVID-19: Our Ken White Student Health Center staff administered 390 doses of first-round vaccines here on campus and have begun delivering second doses. In fact, our nursing students have assisted in dispensing vaccines both on campus as well as with the county health departments in Whitfield, Murray, Gilmer and Pickens counties. The senior social work students also assisted with distribution of vaccines on campus. I know many of us were vaccinated through off-campus sites, and that is also great news because it demonstrates our commitment to protecting our greater community and to finding the path to a more normal life for all of us.
  5. Honoring our hometown hero and alumnus: Last month, we gathered with friends and family of the late Coach Tony Ingle to celebrate his legacy in several special ways. Dalton State joined with the City of Dalton and state Sen. Chuck Payne to recognize our friend, beloved father and husband, basketball coach, mentor to countless young men, faithful leader in his church and graduate of Dalton Junior College. Tony Ingle Parkway, a senate resolution and an endowed basketball scholarship in Tony’s name will link him to Dalton State and the community of Dalton forever. We are grateful for the time we shared with him and are honored to be associated with him permanently.
  6. Students succeeded: Although it was hard to adjust to the changes in the classroom and on campus due to COVID-19, it is a relief to see Dalton State students persevering and standing firm in their resolve to complete their education. We will graduate a total of approximately 800 students this academic year, including 16 high school students who earned their associate degree this spring at Dalton State.
  7. Life continued: Despite the devastating losses of loved ones in our community and beyond, we saw the life cycle continue in a variety of ways through our own employees this past year. Several employees completed academic degrees this year, including undergraduate degrees at Dalton State and graduate degrees elsewhere. A few employees have been accepted into graduate programs including a faculty member working on a second doctorate degree. Some of us just don’t know when to stop! Some of our employees became first-time parents or grandparents during the past year and a few faculty and staff got married this year. I celebrate these life-changing milestones with our employees because it is a testament to how resilient they are. And because we all need a little extra joy in our lives right now.

I am grateful to see Dalton State emerging successfully from the most difficult phase of this pandemic, and I continue to feel fortunate to share in a piece of this history we are making in our community and college. We are pushing forward, developing the future employees and leaders of our community. We are in good hands with individuals who can endure so much and still succeed.