I wanted to take a moment to explain the reason for the conference theme, because since it was chosen, it has been important to me that I share my intended meaning behind it.
The theme for the conference is “Everything Counts.” I chose it back in February, prior to the pandemic, and it feels even more appropriate now than ever before.
I chose it because we put in so much time, effort, consideration, and heart into what we do. No one is doing this to get rich.
However, sometimes we get so swept up in the day-to-day or the regulations or fires that need to be extinguished, and we forget that every single thing we do throughout the day – small and large – helps improve students’ lives… and maybe their family members’ lives too.
Our President-Elect Tiffany Myers said it reminded her of Jenga, and it’s true! The effort you put in keeps the tower from collapsing… even if you see it wobbling dangerously sometimes. Those extra steps that we take, the details that we notice that help a student, the little bit of extra funding we find for them… it all matters.
Most importantly, you will never know how many lives you have impacted by just doing what you do. Sure, sometimes you get a big thank you or a card or a hug (Danielle Duvall at Shepherd seems to get a lot of hugs). But for the most part, you will never know how many people’s lives you have impacted. You will never know how many students were able to complete their training or certificate or degree thanks to something you did. You will never know how many times getting a student that extra $200 in Pell or taking that extra time to help a student understand the process was the deciding factor on whether or not they could persist.
But I guarantee that it has happened. Everything you do counts to someone. Never doubt it. Never forget it. And when you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, remind yourself of it.
I hope that you will all join us for the virtual sessions. I also hope to see everyone soon!