1) Although it is always with mixed emotions that I acknowledge the end of summer, I could not be more excited about another amazing beginning to what I know will be a memorable and productive academic year here in the College of Health and Human Services. I am so pleased to welcome the Class of 2021, our new graduate students and faculty to campus and I assure you, all the detail (and yes, sometimes frustration) -- around registration, getting your ID, financial aid, IT, health insurance and oh yes…parking – will be a faded memory once classes begin!
Whether you are just beginning your adventure in the College of Health and Human Services or returning, you will feel so much energy around the tremendous growth we are enjoying and the increasingly important role we play as an active partner in promoting the health of the greater Charlotte community. There is a lot of buzz around the two completely new programs we are unveiling this fall too—the Master’s Degree in Respiratory Care (Kinesiology) and the BS Degree in Health Systems Management (Public Health Sciences)—I can’t wait to meet our inaugural students enrolling in them both.
Importantly, I know that you will take very seriously the critical role we all play in fostering and creating a community where all can work, learn and fully participate as their true selves in an environment free from harassment, uncivil actions and disrespect. Please visit our principles of diversity, access and inclusion posted on the CHHS website, and again, my warmest wishes for another wonderful year of learning, growth and yes, even a little fun.
2) Like many of you, during the academic year I find that my schedule is so busy that I can’t find enough time to read for fun. This summer, I was able to carve out some time to read several books, one of which was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. The book, an autobiographical reflection on growing up poor in Appalachian Kentucky, really resonated for me as we have as a community been talking a lot about the astounding lack of social mobility in Charlotte (we rank 50th among the 50 largest cities in the United States as a city where it is most difficult to climb out of poverty – the chance of this happening is close to only 4%). My work over the last 39 years has primarily been tied to urban poverty and health – this is a revealing story of rural generational poverty and the negative impact that has on family structures, stability, health and access, writ large – an eye opener. Honestly, I was less compelled by the quality of the writing than I was by themes of perseverance, the essentiality of extended family support and the luck of circumstance. It’s a quick and illuminating read that will get you thinking about how destructive generational poverty is to individuals and communities and on a variety of intersecting planes- economically, socially, psychologically, physically, and politically.