Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez —
From my years on college campuses, I know how bittersweet graduation is. We’re happy that our students are opening the next chapters of their lives, confident they are equipped to take on the world. But we’ve spent much time with these extraordinary young people and it’s tough to say goodbye.
I think that special relationship is captured in the word “inspiration.”
Interestingly, the Latin origin of the word “inspiration” means both “blow into” and “breathe in.” Those two meanings capture our experience with our students.
First, our faculty and staff are an inspiration for our students. They are role models who, every day, show our students what’s possible in terms of personal achievement. They are mentors and guides who help students navigate the challenges of college, and demonstrate the sense of duty and service we expect our students to embody.
Second, they inspire students to do their best. They exhort them, they push them, they demand of them, more than students thought themselves possible. Many first-generation college students attend our institutions precisely because they know they will be held to the standard of their abilities, regardless of circumstances. They choose the path that may be more challenging, but offers the greatest reward. And students are secure knowing their mentors will be there to guide them along the way.
Because of the mentorship and encouragement students receive, they are empowered to experience the fulfillment that comes from personal inspiration – a revelation that had eluded them. In a moment of clarity, a concept that had seemed incomprehensible, is suddenly understood, almost simple. But that moment is hard-earned – students put in hours of reading, research, discussion and hard thinking.
These inspirations do not occur solely in the classroom or the lab, but during students’ many experiences at our colleges. By exploring new interests and confronting unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations, they discover things about themselves they didn’t know. These inspirations may reinforce their thinking or take them in entirely new directions. Passions are ignited that become lifelong pursuits.
Now, at graduation, after having served as an inspiration, and driving them to new inspirations, our student will go on to become leaders in their professions, fields of study, and communities. Where once they had breathed in, they will now go on to inspire others.