In March of 2020, the apartment I was living in became … bat ridden. After consultation with appropriate professionals, that experience sent me to the emergency room multiple times over the course of several weeks—for rabies shots. I learned an immense amount in those weeks—for those were the very same weeks that the meaning of the pandemic with which we are now living began to be clear.
During each visit, what COVID-19 meant became more real—the emergency room protocols got stricter, ventilators appeared in the parking lot, and, eventually, those with respiratory symptoms were shunted to a different emergency room than where I went for my shots. As importantly, I met people who were afraid—as was I. I saw the ways COVID-19 was—and is—an ethical challenge, a scientific challenge, and much, much more.
Put another way, I saw in new ways the need for Health Leadership—liberal arts education through the lens of health—and in those very same weeks experienced the many ways Salem is prepared to develop such leaders and in fact already does. We develop and sustain leaders. We seek to live in ways that build and sustain health lives and healthy communities. We care for one another—and we lead as we do so.
Our commitments to the world and to each other are central to the learning we do together. You—many of you—reminded me of that last March. As we honor our past, stand in our present, and co-create tomorrow’s Salem focused on liberal arts education through Health Leadership—we do it together because it is OUR TIME to make history. And, it is OUR TIME to lead.
P.S. If you want to learn more about bats, I recommend Dr. Traci Porter, Associate Professor of Biology, whose expertise helped me be less afraid.