Standing Thunderbird Tall

Published Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 3:10pm

Lori’s pseudo desk
Lori's pseudo desk

As we face this unprecedented threat — one of the greatest we might ever experience in our careers — I am inspired by the dedication, courage and innovative spirit of our MCC team. Community colleges are renowned for attracting those who seek to make a difference in the lives of others. That spirit has been demonstrated at MCC. Let me share a few that have reached my pseudo desk.

I am so grateful to these individuals who have stepped up to keep our college delivering quality education. They include:

  • Numerous kudos have been shared with me about the members of the Center for Teaching and Learning team. The CTL chose to rise to the occasion and have assisted many faculty members in bringing courses to life in the remote medium.
  • Faculty members who never imagined they would be teaching online shared tips with their students about how to approach being in this new learning environment.
  • Staff in student service units, who are reaching out to students on a daily basis to check in with them, are continuing to engage with students. And are doing phenomenal work keeping the Thunderbird spirit alive!
  • We have counselors, Disability Resources Services staff, and advisors working with students on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, making sure our students have what they need to thrive while coping with COVID-19.
  • Our Police, IT, Shipping/Receiving, Security, and Maintenance and Operations teams have been essential and ensure our campuses remain secure and in good condition.

It is no surprise that, with this higher calling, our college and your colleagues have so admirably risen to the challenges we are facing. I have had the opportunity to assist in the distribution of laptops for our students and our students are so grateful. I am so appreciative of our CTS team who were able to mobilize that effort so quickly. Here are some photos of several of our amazing laptop distribution teams.

Jenna Atkinson, Kris Bliss, Chrissy Bullock, Steve Lieber, and Greg Reents distribute laptops to students.
Jenna Atkinson, Kris Bliss, Chrissy Bullock, Steve Lieber, and Greg Reents distribute laptops to students.

Sam Stevens and Chrissy Bullock sporting personal protective equipment as they distribute laptops to students.
Sam Stevens and Chrissy Bullock sporting personal protective equipment as they distribute laptops to students.

Pat Peppin and Kris Bliss - Ready to assist students!
Pat Peppin and Kris Bliss - Ready to assist students!

While you struggle, put in long hours, and worry about others, I urge you to pause and allow yourself time to grieve the losses of so much from your “normal” life. Being removed from the foundation of daily routines and the comforting contact with friends and family takes its toll. Professional communications are impacted. Observing the speaker provides far more information than what is actually being said and, while video chats help bridge that gap, they can’t replace the energy and warmth of actual human face-to-face interactions.

I have spent some time when walking or running my Mesa Miles listening to podcasts. If you are interested, I have two for your consideration. If you have recommendations for me, please forward them - I’d enjoy giving them a listen.

  1. David Kessler and Brené on Grief and Finding Meaning
  2. The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

This new normal has brought dynamic personal shifts as people navigate childcare, strategize going to the grocery store, and assist children with remote k-12 education. Additional changes may include the need to attend to ill family members and the inability to gather for important milestones such as holidays, birthdays and graduations.

Everyone is experiencing struggles and concerns about an uncertain future. Please remember to respond with compassion and understanding while you assist our students and work with your colleagues. Don’t hesitate to reach out for an understanding chat through our Employee Assistance Program, which could help you with tough moments.

I am so proud to be a Thunderbird. Thank you for standing tall on half a century of MCC accomplishments built on authentic concern and care for our students, our colleagues and the community of which we are a partner.

We are Thunderbird strong!


Lori M Berquam, Ph.D.
Interim President