It’s the end of the academic year and I wanted to take this opportunity to express deep gratitude.  Despite the many challenges that all of us faced in the past year, it helpful to reflect on things that make us grateful.  Practicing gratitude has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system, improve mental health and relationships, and improve happiness.  And there really has been a lot to be grateful for in our community.

I’d like to start with my gratitude for our teachers and educators.   While they began their profession with the intention of teaching, many have found themselves serving many other roles, from coaches or nurses to therapists and counselors.  They have the extraordinarily important role of making the classroom a safe place to be curious.  Brené Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people…and has the courage to develop that potential.”  Given that definition, teachers are the most important leaders in our community. No matter what you teach, from pre-Kindergarten to college, I’m grateful for your leadership and having the courage to develop the potential of our students.

I am also grateful to work with so many people in our community and across the state who share a vision of Socorro where 100% of students, families, and residents have access to services they need to survive and thrive.  The people I work with—at New Mexico Tech, Socorro Consolidated Schools, the SCOPE Heath Council, and many other community members—deeply inspire me with their unrelenting compassion and drive to providing opportunities and resources for students and families.

I’m grateful to my Outreach Team at New Mexico Tech (NMT), and to the students, faculty, staff and community members who dedicated time to volunteer for outreach events on campus, in Socorro, or across the state (including the New Mexico Science Olympiad or New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair).  These events are so impactful to the student participants, and they would not be possible without the dedication of volunteers.  My gratitude for you gave me strength to overcome the fear of failure, and for that I cannot thank you enough.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I want to express my gratitude to every student who is coming to the end of this academic year.  It wasn’t easy.  You maybe had failures.  You most certainly had challenges.  Know that these are OK, and they are the foundation of building resilience and grit.  Acknowledge and celebrate your successes; they will be the foundation for future success.  Parents, families, friends, mentors—I am also grateful to all of you for supporting our students.  They are our future, and you are their rock.

To those of you who are graduating, CONGRATULATIONS!  This is a big moment, the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.  As you make this transition, take a moment to consider the people or events that helped you get here.  Think about what you are grateful for.  Most of all, be grateful for you and the work you did to make it here.  You did it!

Sharon Sessions, Guest Columnist