February 2021 Newsletter
Dear Westmont Parent,
I’m grateful for you, Westmont parent. With your prayers and support, we’ve charted a course only a handful of colleges in the United States have managed: students successfully living and learning on campus in this beautiful setting.
We recognize the challenges involved, and I thank you for encouraging your student to live with a great sense of responsibility for themselves and others. As we launch the semester, we’ll continue being diligent in promoting health and safety as a visible expression of love for one another. I hope you enjoy the articles included below that touch on the themes of self-care and resilience, two vital topics for college students.
Our society and world clearly need more Westmont graduates, who develop skill and discernment through the liberal arts as well as a biblically based wisdom and compassion that can help address the challenges we face. Given this great opportunity to continue growing together, let’s pray that God uses every aspect of our students’ time this spring to train their hearts and minds to make an impact as they serve God.
We know it's challenging to keep up with information this year, and we're here to help. Please reach out to our office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Parents will receive Information about Commencement for the classes of 2020 and 2021 in the coming days.
Interim Senior Director of Alumni and Parent Relations
Latest information about COVID protocol:
As of Thursday, January 28, Santa Barbara County remains in the Purple Tier, the most restrictive one, because COVID-19 cases have increased in the region. As a result, Westmont will continue holding classes outside or through remote learning except for some labs and studio classes. Please watch the latest video update from Jason Tavarez. director of institutional resilience.
Mark your Calendars for Virtual Parents Weekend
Parents Weekend will be a virtual event this year, and we're working hard to create a fun, informative, and interactive experience you'll want to attend. We expect to schedule it in late March or early April. Stay tuned for more details posted on our Parents Weekend website or sent to your email. If you any questions, please email our office at email@example.com.
Hear Celebrated Harvard Historian Speak at the President's Breakfast
Nancy Koehn, a celebrated historian at the Harvard Business School, will discuss courageous leadership in turbulent times at the 16th annual President’s Breakfast held virtually this year on Friday, March 5, at 8 a.m. The James E. Robison professor of business administration, Koehn research focuses on crisis leadership and how leaders and their teams rise to the challenges of high-stakes situations.
Her most recent book, “Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times”, was a 2017 Wall Street Journal bestseller. This gripping historical narrative spotlights five masters of crisis, including President Abraham Lincoln and environmental crusader Rachel Carson, and what today's leaders from a range of organizations and pursuits can learn from these extraordinary stories.
Tickets cost $35 and go on sale February 12. You’ll receive more information about this special virtual event and purchasing tickets.
Take Time for Yourself So You Can Help Your Students
by Eric Nelson, Ph.D., Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
In a typical year, college life includes the best of times and the worst of times with an interesting confluence of newfound friends, independence, and experiences as well as uncertainty, identity crises, and anxiety. That convergence creates the richness of this four-year journey of young adult development. Last year was clearly not a typical year, with the pandemic adding additional stress, loss, uncertainty, and fatigue. It has also limited—and in some areas eliminated—those “best of times” moments. As we might expect, college students nationwide report higher levels of anxiety, depression, stress, and loneliness.
However, the excess strain and loss is only part of the story. Students have demonstrated far more resilience and grit than anticipated.
by Lesa Stern, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies
As a professor of communication studies with an emphasis in interpersonal communication, I’ve been conducting research on resilience and encouragement. More specifically, my research has focused on ways that students can improve their resilience and ways that people in their social networks (friends, roommates, classmates, nuclear, and extended family and friends) can help or hinder their resilience. In the midst of my studies, along came COVID, which severely tested and tried many of our Westmont students. Now more than ever, students need to work on adopting healthy strategies for coping with stress and disappointment in this fallen world.
I’ve been asked to share the resilience research (mostly from communication, education, and social psychology studies) in easily accessible and understandable ways. I’ve chosen colorful and simple flyers that capture the essence of the results and provide tips for parents and extended families of our Westmont students. You provide key social support, guidance, and modeling for resilience to your students. The best part is that these strategies can also help parents, family, and friends increase their own resilience.
January begins a new semester and a clean academic slate, which means it’s a great time for students to make some positive changes and commitments as they move forward.
Read the first article entitled "Boundaries" below.
*I want to acknowledge Kyle Mayl, an undergraduate student majoring in communication students and Spanish, as a colleague and co-researcher on this project.
by Lesa Stern, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies
In this age of information overload and multiple and competing demands on our time, we can work on being good role models for our students by prayerfully setting and maintaining healthy boundaries regarding work, family and friends, recreation, spiritual practices, and sleep. Prayerfully consider what God is calling you to this day, week and season, and then set your schedule. If you have ever read Hummel’s pamphlet, “The Tyranny of the Urgent” (1967), you know that urgent things may not be high-priority items, and they can eat up our time and distract us from important things. Discerning which of these unexpected things actually come from God and which are merely distractions can be difficult. Seeking the Spirit’s guidance though prayer is essential.
Discerning the important is also challenging. Our students often suffer from FOMO—the fear of missing out—and perhaps you do, too.