SAINTS PERSPECTIVE, SCCC President Brad Bennett

 

Kansas people like to say, “If you don’t like the weather today, wait until tomorrow.” It’s not an exaggeration to agree that we are used to blistering high temperatures in summer, freezing cold in winter, and sometimes all four seasons in one day.

I couldn’t help thinking about this as I reflected on the last month at Seward County Community College. We have definitely experienced the kinds of highs and lows that can defy words. On the sunny side of life, we celebrated some amazing milestones:

• SCCC’s 53rd commencement awarded 420 certificates and degrees to Saints graduates!

• 37 of those were concurrent graduates from SCCC programs as high school students.

• We broke ground on our Student Health Center, which is under construction as I write!

• Another cohort of 11 Commercial Drivers License students graduated, four from our partnership site in Garden City.

• Service awards recognized SCCC employees for a total of 290 years of dedication.

Even while we are thrilled about the positives, our campus has been somber over the past week. A student died in a driving accident. An employee lost his life suddenly. It’s a lot to process. While we can’t possibly comprehend how the families of these two individuals must be hurting, we share their grief and their shock.

I often remind myself and our campus faculty and staff that we are not just providing classes to students. We are helping young adults find their way into the adult world, with all its complications, joy, pain, opportunity and adversity. We all feel that as we start the summer.

It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. But as we do our best to show up to work, encourage each other, and allow time for the feelings to subside, I can say with confidence that I am proud of our team and the example they are providing to the students around them.

Of course our mental health services and on-campus counselor are ready to help, and I am so glad they are available. In other small ways, I see our team doing what we can to provide comfort, understanding, and care.

It reminds me of how we came together to support our neighbors in Perryton last year, when the weather literally turned the world upside down. It reminds me of how our campus and community have offered steady support for those on the margins with practical help through the SaintsUP pantry, SaintsUP wardrobe, and words of kindness when fellow Saints experience hardship. And it reminds me of two completely unprecedented years when we faced a pandemic together.

Communities in the heartland are well-known for the warmth and can-do spirit, and that’s a big part of why my wife and I have chosen to make our home here in Liberal. I have confidence that whatever hardships the SCCC community encounters, we will pull together and make it through.

And don’t forget, when one of us reaches a milestone achievement, we’re there for the celebration, too. That’s how life works: highs, lows, wins, losses, lessons and achievements. What a privilege to be part of how our students find their way through the disappointments and find moments of victory, too.

Along the way, it looks like we are in for a spell of high temperatures and summer storms. Weather predictions are not always reliable, but one thing is for sure: when you are a Saint, you have people in your corner, and we’ll be here for you in sunshine and rain.

ABOUT THE WRITER — Brad Bennett is the president of Seward County Community College, and thankful for the team he is privileged to lead. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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19th June, 2024 - 19:53
Broken Clouds
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