My Winter 2021 Message to Students and Community

Posted by on 01.11.21 in College Experience, Community, Social Responsibility

A.D. and Sadie Mae Nesbary, 1972

After last week’s appalling assault on democracy in Washington, D.C., I shredded my original welcome message. We live in a different world now. How we respond as an institution of higher education to the many challenges before us will determine, in the final analysis, how successful we are as faculty and students. Indeed, as citizens.

Each generation faces its own obstacles. My parents, A.D. and Sadie Mae Nesbary, were born in the waning days of the 1918 Pandemic and endured years of hardship during the Great Depression. My father fought not only for his country in the U.S. Army during World War II, he battled for the right to serve in an integrated Army and the right to vote in his home state of Tennessee. Like others of their generation, my parents experienced the highs and lows of the Civil Rights movement. My Dad, who lived to 90 years of age, witnessed the impeachment of a President, the 9/11 attacks, and this century’s Great Recession.

I share their journey to illustrate that my parents didn’t have a crystal ball. They couldn’t foresee the many hurdles awaiting them as Americans, while working hard to raise seven children and hoping to share in the American dream. But they did know – and they instilled in each of us – the non-negotiable importance of an education as the means to achieve that dream. My father, always a true American patriot in my eyes, taught us to make decisions based on research and facts.

Fast forward to today. Our current MCC students, with a median age of 25 years, have already experienced in their relatively short lifetimes the 9/11 attacks, the Tech Revolution, the Great Recession, the election of the first African American President, the largest Civil Rights movement in U.S. history, the impeachment of a U.S. president, and the first breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in more than 200 years.

Your generation has had to grow up quickly, perhaps too quickly. Unfortunately, you also do not possess a crystal ball. The future is uncertain. But what you do have in your grasp is a college education and the opportunity to hone your critical-thinking skills. During your time on the MCC campus, you have the ability to inform your basic belief system through scholarly inquiry and good old-fashioned research. Ask questions. Challenge concepts. Exchange thoughts and ideas. We encourage it. That’s the role of a college.

When you leave Muskegon Community College with a degree, certificate or the credits to move on to the next phase in your life, our hope is that you leave better informed about yourself and your world. Understand your place in history. My dad was fighting for basic human rights. In many ways, your responsibilities are equally important. You are up to the challenge. Realize your potential and you will become the new “Greatest Generation.”

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