Focusing on What Matters Most

This is a special time of year for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you. It is hectic, with year-end and semester-end activities layered on top of the social and family activities of the holiday season. But it is also a time of year when I reflect on what really matters. I find myself feeling a range of emotions from nostalgia to gratitude to compassion and hope for the future.

As I am pulled in many directions, I need to prioritize my time and energy. Does it really matter if my bed is made every day? Will anyone remember in years to come that I missed the committee meeting? On any given evening in December I could easily be two to four different places. How do I choose? Part of my prioritization process is to ask myself which activities renew my heart for the work I do and which ones are distractions that occupy my time and drain my energy.

As I reflect on my priorities, I am reminded celebrating our students is one of my most rewarding and energizing activities. I am proud to shake the hands of our students as they cross the stage at graduation. My tears of pride flow freely at our end-of-semester activities such as the nursing pinning ceremonies. Our students give me hope for the future when I see how prepared they are to fill our local jobs and other community leadership roles.

Similarly, I find it renews my passion for the work I do to engage in informal activities with our employees. Each December, we hold a meeting for all employees and host a modest reception before the event to bring us together to build and affirm our connections across the various areas of the college. I always leave these events with memorable reminders of the commitment of our faculty and staff for the work we do, serving our community and our students with selflessness. These opportunities create bonds that solidify us during the stressful times.

It warms my soul to engage in activities that support others who are in need. I can’t bear the thought of a family, especially with children, going hungry during the holidays. Or imagine a child wondering why she was apparently on the naughty list because Santa did not visit her this year. I will never forget the year Santa brought my Easy Bake Oven. It fills my heart with joy to see Dalton State students and employees filling boxes with non-perishable food items and unwrapped toys. And it was a red-letter day to see so many of our local restaurants and businesses and Dalton State students and employees as well as our neighbors come together to organize, host, sponsor, volunteer and participate in the Gratefull Dalton event.

Just as I prioritize my schedule, I am reviewing my records and making decisions about end-of-year charitable contributions. I must consider these gifts carefully since my resources are limited and there are many worthwhile causes. Obviously, Dalton State is one of those groups I support financially. I believe in the transformative power of education. I know first-hand what a quality education can do for an individual and their family for generations to come. At Dalton State, I see how motivated our students are to succeed, how hard they work and how readily they serve our community during college and after graduation. I also know how many of them are only a car repair bill or emergency room visit away from dropping out of college.

At Dalton State, a few hundred dollars can make all the difference to a student working multiple jobs. The Dalton State Foundation awards 150 scholarships totaling more than $250,000 annually. I hope you will consider becoming a student’s secret Santa or angel this holiday season. Give the gift of education to someone who will provide a tremendous return on your investment. Support someone who will increase the economic vitality of our community. Help us ensure Dalton State is the top-quality college our community needs. For your convenience, you may visit our website at and select the “GIVE” link in the upper left-hand corner of the website.