Dear Kelly,

This year has seen so many challenges, and lately, I just feel things aren’t getting any better. With everything going on, school is at the very back of my mind. Is there any advice you can give to help me find the determination that I once had?

It has been a challenging year; that’s for certain! I, like many of you, can think back to Dec. 31, 2019, and those moments before the new year arrived. We were so optimistic and excited about 2020. We were writing down resolutions, and there were even some of us who refused to call them resolutions because we were really passionate about seeing them through. I don’t think any of us had any idea what was lurking just around the corner.

When COVID-19 hit our country, we entered a world none of us had ever known. Lockdowns, social distancing and distance learning became new ways of life. Questions and uncertainty abounded about the future, from our family’s health and wellbeing to job security and, truthfully, just whether we would ever see a day where life went back to “normal.”

Although our country is still affected by so many challenges, one thing is certain: We are in a time that we can define and realize our strengths.

Years ago I adopted a belief that our greatest strengths are developed through the challenges in life that we defeat. I know who I am as an individual is a direct result of the challenges I have overcome, the battles I have fought and the mountains I have climbed. I haven’t gotten to where I am by accident but rather through encouragement from loved ones, faith in God, willpower and the desire and determination to complete the goals I set for myself.

You didn’t get to where you are by accident, either. You are a student at Mercer University, one of the most incredible, top-ranked educational institutions in the United States. You know what it took to earn your place as a Mercer student, and you accomplished it. Truthfully, you know the drive and potential you have inside of you, but right now, you’re allowing it to be overshadowed by all that is going on in the world.

Don’t let things that you can’t control deter you from reaching the goals you have for your future. Stay focused on those goals because at some point, things will get back to normal. Although we may not know when, it will happen, and when it does, where do you hope to be? Back where you started, or well on your way to seeing your goal become a reality?

You set forth on this journey for a reason. And although you may have had no idea that there would be global pandemic while you were on this journey, you did know there would be challenges. You have already faced many obstacles, but remember, you have overcome them. You have the power and ability to reach your goals, you just have to keep laser-focused on what those goals are.

Make no excuses, believe and have faith in what you can accomplish. Jamie Brown, assistant director of center operations for the Mercer Regional Academic Centers, shared a quote with me by Gail Devers: “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”

You can do this! As I have said before, you have greatness in you — you just have to let it ROAR!

Good luck to you, and as always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey!

 

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