The Difficulty of February

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Authored by: Jessica Howard, Chemeketa president/CEO

One thing that has always amazed me about working in community colleges is the difficulty of February. 

Perhaps it is the persistence of cold and dreary weather; the recent holidays becoming a remote memory while spring break remains distant and ineffable; the realization that, practically speaking, one probably will not have enough time left in the academic year to accomplish one’s ambitious annual agenda, or — for fans like me — the fact that this month marks the decisive and devastating end of football season. 

How to stay inspired and focused?  

For me, I consider both the larger and smaller picture in terms of my life and work. I remind myself that what we do in community colleges is much bigger than any person, place, or time of year. 

We create ladders out of poverty for our most vulnerable constituents, provide transformative education to help students achieve their academic and career goals, and generate much-needed economic prosperity for our communities. We are agents of positive change in a world otherwise marked by decreasing opportunity for many.

What we do is incredibly important and an absolute good, and we need to affirm each other in this regard. That affirmation, for me, means focusing on the immediate and the personal: going out of my way to meet a new staff member, surprising colleagues with something thoughtful, connecting with a new student each day, and also taking the time for self-care. This might take the form of new crafts at home, taking more time to read, lunches with friends, or card games with family.

Fundamentally, connecting more with others, at work and at home, is my key to staying inspired when February calls. Football may be over, but we all need to stay on our game. And that means caring for and validating each other.