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Dec 19 , 2020

The end of this year is within reach. None of us need a reminder of this, yet it is punctuated by two realities: the presence of some of our time-honored, end-of-year traditions and the absence of others. The disparity between those two things is why so many of us are probably welcoming the end of 2020 like no other year before. In this disparity we find the reason for our forward focus. The weather is cooling, but there are fewer opportunities to gather around the fire. Gifts are being planned and purchased, but there is no holiday bustle. Our neighborhoods sparkle with holiday decorations, yet there are no parties this year. If you let it, the holidays could add insult to injury for a year that has been so difficult for so many.

And yet, there is reason for hope. In recent weeks, we have heard news of multiple vaccines, and seen their dissemination begin in multiple places, including right here in Houston. Mortality rates are dropping as our healthcare professionals learn more about how to treat this “novel” virus. Even as we reach what may be the most difficult time in this pandemic, it comes on the cusp of breakthroughs that may lead us back to the “normal” way of life that we are missing so much this December. 

Certainly, there are so many aspects of pre-pandemic life that we long to experience again. And yet, is it really possible to go back to normal? In less than one year, we have probably heard the phrase “the new normal” more than in all of the collective years before 2020. For most of us, those words carry with them some negative connotation. Thus far, “new normal” has meant social distancing, wearing masks, missed moments of community, separation from our loved ones, perhaps unemployment or the loss of friends and family members. In some ways, it feels like a lost year. 

And yet, this “new normal” has brought us so many moments of inspiration. We’ve seen: herculean strength in our frontline medical workers, as they have continually put themselves at risk in order to care for their patients; teachers overcoming unbelievable obstacles to continue to educate our students; researchers and scientists combining creativity, innovation and grit in producing treatments and vaccines; and the everyday heroism of individuals like you, who continue to push forward, knowing that this, too, shall pass.

At the Susanne M. Glassock School of Continuing Studies, we have also made efforts to persevere in this time. Typically, we end each year by telling stories of our programs and students, and how they are impacting our community for the better. Any success we have in accomplishing our mission as a school is built on the successes of these students. Given the circumstances of 2020, it would be understandable if our students had put their aspirations and goals on hold to batten down the hatches and weather the storm. And yet, they persisted. Because of their resolve to continue to make an impact, the Glasscock School had the opportunity to help them get there and to make a Continuing Impact in their lives, the lives of their families and in the life of our city. 

This year has shown us that there are many factors outside of our control that dictate the steps of our lives. And yet, it has also shown us that we must take advantage of every opportunity to create the life and society we want, because the future just can’t wait. How will you take control of what your new normal will be in the coming year? You have accomplished a lot, and yet, the new year presents you with the opportunity to:

We hope that you have moments of rest, relaxation, reflection and renewal this holiday season. And yet, we hope you do so with one eye on the horizon, making new plans for how you will make your impact in this new year. May it be a year that finds not circumstance, but your resolve that determines your new normal. A new normal defined by your aspirations, your goals and your successes. And, if the Glasscock School can help you get there, know that we stand ready to help you make your impact.