Lifting one another up during difficult times

Are you still hugging people in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Credit: Shutterstock/

Credit: Shutterstock/

Are you still hugging people in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Clearly, the coronavirus is testing everyone’s patience and resolve. Yet, amid the uncertainty, a resilient spirit thrives.

To provide a bit of a diversion from the news around us, we’ve asked our community contributors to share their personal stories of optimism during these troubling times.

Their stories will appear weekly. We hope you find them inspirational. We hope they provide you with some perspective. And we hope they remind you, as captured in some of their personal stories, that we are all in this together.

‘Pride and hope’

Human nature is a two-sided coin.

We’ve all been frustrated and disappointed to see examples of people disregarding words of warning from our medical and scientific experts. Not heeding advice for physical distancing and hoarding essential supplies are examples of one side of this coin.

The other side of the coin has been even more revealing and encouraging.

Moving traditional college instruction and services to a virtual reality has taken a Herculean effort on the part of every single one of my colleagues at Piedmont College, where I serve as a vice president.

I had high hopes as we moved with great alacrity and deliberation; yet, I could not have foreseen what was to happen.

Our faculty instantly became earnest learners and creative entrepreneurs.

Our staff, without hesitation, leapt to the challenge of meeting every need of our current and prospective students. Both faculty and staff have done this with firm resolve so that all transition could happen as seamlessly as possible.

The driving force has always been the needs of our students.

Choosing a college and going to college are stressful. I have seen remarkable resilience in this generation. They have rallied to connect and to help one another. They reach out to their faculty and staff mentors. Perhaps of everything that I have witnessed these past few weeks, our students give me the greatest pride and hope.

This pandemic has hit every organization hard, of that there is no doubt. Coming out the other side, we will surely be better. Faculty will have created new tools to enhance their teaching. Staff have built new support systems for students and have created ad hoc opportunities for connections across our organization and among new colleagues at other institutions.

And, our students are showing that they want to get back to campus and get engaged.

For this two-sided coin of human nature, I call “Heads.”

This story was written by Perry Rettig, a community contributor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Rettig has a Ph.D. from Marquette University in Educational Leadership and Administration, and he is the vice president for enrollment management and vice president for the Athens campus at Piedmont College.