And just like that summer is gone. One minute I was running around outdoors barefoot feeling the hot sun on my face, and the next I was searching for socks, long pants and rain boots just to take the dog out. The cold rain we’ve had the last few days is a relentless announcement that fall weather is here. Even when it’s falling slowly, to me, it’s a loud announcement that summer is gone.
This happens every year. I know people love the fall. I’m a fan of cider, pretty leaves and a new semester, too, but I always hate to see the summer weather go. I usually find myself in a weird spot with a foot in both seasons refusing to give one up when the new one arrives. I’m currently wearing shorts and a sweater — half of me like a stubborn child while the other is behaving like an adult. The lit candle on my desk smells of cinnamon and pumpkin, while I slug lemonade and ignore my cold toes (freshly painted as if sandals are in my immediate future).
This summer, in particular, is tough to leave behind. Because of COVID, I didn’t go to the beach, restaurants, family gatherings, barbecues or concerts. I spent my “vacation” on my deck, which was still lovely, but not the same. The excitement of a new semester is tempered by fears of virus spread, fewer students on campus and no football.
But that’s what we’ve been handed. Safety must be our number one priority. All we can do is adjust to our actual realities the best way we can. To fall into our new normal with as much grace, intelligence, compassion, spirit and determination as we have. As a favorite former co-worker used to say, “This is adventure learning.” Is this fall like any other? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean we give up. The adventure awaits.
Unfortunately, the adventure includes fighting an insidious virus, and it’s not an easy fight. This week, we announced more than 120 COVID-19 cases reported. But we’re not giving up. Our researchers have come up with innovative methods to detect the virus early to help with spread and outbreaks. Coach Izzo and President Stanley teamed up in a video to talk about our best defense. The university is finding innovative ways to connect students with mentors and resources so they succeed while studying remotely.
Many of our faculty are working hard to find ways to give students the best learning experience while keeping them safe. Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, penned a note to his students. He says, “Though our football season has been canceled, we have a new rival in town. As usual, we must protect our home turf by summoning the indomitable spirit that lives in Spartan stadium.” Read more from him in the Faculty voice: Defense wins championships and our fight against COVID-19
And students are rising to the challenge. They are finding ways to connect with their instructors and each other and participate remotely in research. Sydney Hall recently completed her second summer in the Research Opportunities for Undergraduates program at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station. She says, “You never know how tall a sand dune really is when you start your climb at the bottom. Similarly, I didn’t realize the different challenges that I would face while researching from home instead of at the lab.” Read her Student view: The virtual sand dune of remote research to learn more about her experience.
We all have our own versions of sand dunes to climb this fall. Some of us need to step out of summer and start the climb slowly. Others might be already halfway up. No matter where we are, we’re stronger together. If you’re closer to the top, reach behind you (with a mask and from 6 feet away) to help someone behind you who might be struggling. If you can’t seem to even start, ask for help. Be there for each other, Spartans. We’ve got this. #SpartansWill.