I start this article the way I will end it - with a huge thank you. It’s as simple as that. You see, I was asked to write an article – we all were – and I appreciate that the Tech has included this new section in your newspaper. Some articles contribute to community conversations, others help frame the future or clarify the issues we are managing. But, for me, at this time of the year, my article is more of a thank you note than a summary of the year, an evaluation of hot topics or even an expose. And, if I am being honest, it is a thank you note that I write in my head on most days on my way home from work.
My commute, which lasts for over 75 minutes, gives me plenty of time to think. I admit, there are days I wish things were easier for all of us, but more often than not, I can’t believe how lucky I am to get to see all your work in action. This is a special community and I enjoy getting to be an observer, advisor, and, on some projects, a participant. Caltech students and student leaders are some of the best I have known in my career because you all do amazing work. I am grateful you are willing to do it!
You have so much to be proud of: you planned a successful rotation, welcomed new students into the community, attended thousands of meetings, managed an incredible interhouse season, transitioned leaders, won athletic contests, participated in career fairs, hosted the student faculty conference, named our mascot, renamed a house, reimagined the Tech, authored a yearbook, attended events, supported your peers, applied for programs, participated in educational conversations, served on committees, heard cases, volunteered in the community, painted murals, welcomed Science Olympiad back to campus, traveled to conferences, celebrated each other’s successes, cared about Caltech, and worked hard as leaders, advocates, partners, collaborators, communicators and stewards. You made things happen whether they were new study lounges, the CRC, house spaces, programs, policy changes, grant proposals or traditions.
You also stayed the course when things weren’t easy. And let’s face it, they are not always easy. For the most part, being a leader is about managing when things are not easy, and you had setbacks for sure. There were noise complaints and construction delays and, of course, covid issues. But you made things happen in spite of the setbacks, and you deserve credit for all that you accomplished. Sometimes you expressed feelings of defeat – things move slowly, or change, or plans get reconsidered. But I am always impressed that student leaders at Caltech problem-solve and find paths forward that work. I always appreciate your work here and try to honor it in my own work.
Student leaders play an important role in the work of the Institute and your work matters. Thank you for putting so much effort into everything you do. Everyone around you recognizes it and appreciates it. Especially me. Once again – a huge thank you.