Dear Hokies:

In Blacksburg on Saturday, we had a burst of welcome sunshine. It reminded me that we will get through this truly difficult time, although there are many cloudy days ahead. I hope you know how grateful I am for all the ways that students have modeled Ut Prosim in what seems like an ever-changing situation.

We’ve had to redirect social energy from anxiety and panic to love and preparation—and I’ve seen you do this again and again. We’ve had to fortify our communities in ways that reduce fear, increase faith, and reorient all of us from self-protection to serving others—and I’ve seen you do this as well.

We’ve been asked to change the norms of social interaction, literally overnight, to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. These steps feel so drastic. Still, implementing them early enough requires tremendous leadership—because the actions will not initially seem necessary to many people. When dealing with pandemics, the measures that will actually make a difference always need to be taken sooner than we think. You’ve led in this way here, too.

I know we are all just trying to put one foot in front of the other, on a road that feels unfamiliar and hard. In a podcast this week, I heard an old proverb helpful for self-care: “Just take one step at a time. If you can’t take a step, move your foot. If you can’t move your foot, then just wiggle your toes.” I believe that’s a good start—let’s all just do the most we can to take care of ourselves. And then, let’s make sure everyone around us can wiggle their toes, too.

Take care of yourself. Communicate your needs, share the load, and remember that our strength is born by our larger community. You are deeply appreciated and your wellbeing is equally important. We’re Hokies—and Hokies are resilient, servants, and agents for good. It’s just one of the thousand reasons I love Virginia Tech.

With hope,  

Frank Shushok, Jr., Ph.D.

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs