Over the past months, life has changed dramatically for all of us. Our creativity has shown as we navigated the transition to online operations and the shutdown of active research laboratories. Through conversation with students, we have begun to understand your anxiety about the future, concern over courses, financial struggles, work demands, deeply rooted social justice issues, and your worry about the physical and emotional health of family and friends.
Even with the physical distance that virtual education involves, we want you to know that you are the reason we are here at CSUSM and that you are constantly in our thoughts. We empathize with your challenges and your frustrations with the changing dynamics of this crisis. As faculty, staff, and administrators, we are in close contact via virtual platforms, working diligently to foster your success. You are not simply students. You are part of our community, and we care about you deeply. We encourage you to reach out to mentors and advisors here at CSTEM as well as your family and friends to help you navigate the stresses of a virtual semester. Reach out to peers around you to support each other and to take on your rightful role as a mentor to those who are not as far along the academic path.
Physical distancing has given me a new appreciation for the value of human connection and community. I have seen examples of students with the Courage of a Cougar, volunteering to shelter-in-place with an elderly family member so parents could continue working or ramping up hours in an essential position so colleagues with at-risk family members could stay home, all while maintaining their full class load. We see you CSTEM students. In fact, we look at you and the creative and courageous ways you meet this challenge head on and we see our future leaders.
As you start the academic year, make the most of your opportunity to learn from scholars, to become a part of your student community, to give back where you can to our region here in North County, and to look for the right place to take an active role as a student leader. Your challenges in the virtual classroom over the next year will not be easy, but we hope you can look back and say they were all worth the effort!
Dr. Jackie Trischman
CSTEM Interim Dean