Jim Amidon — The sun was piercing through the window blinds in my office late last Friday afternoon as I watched a steady stream of cars taking Wabash College students to their homes for Thanksgiving break. It had been a long and exhausting two-week stretch. The filtered sunlight and my warm office conspired against me — I found myself drifting off in reflection… though what I really wanted was a nap!
Thoughts, memories, people, and events lazily made their way through my mind, and for a solid hour I thought about nothing more than why I am thankful.
I am thankful for the strength, resiliency, and dedication of my Wabash co-workers. I am blessed — the College is blessed — to have talented, hard-working employees who strive on day after day to provide an unparalleled living and learning experience for the students enrolled here.
We are not perfect; we are educators in every sense of the word who constantly teach and learn. It is our job — our business — to encourage our students to reach their full potential.
I am thankful for Wabash’s alumni, whose love of and dedication to alma mater goes beyond my ability to shape into words. From the alumni who helped Wabash raise a record Annual Fund to those who helped recruit an amazingly talented and diverse freshman class, to the alumni who give of their time, I am grateful.
I am reminded of one particular example of that dedication. Two weeks ago, Tom Fisher, Wabash Class of 1991, took time away from his job as Indiana’s Solicitor General to come speak to Todd McDorman’s freshman tutorial class. Tom has argued three cases before the United States Supreme Court, including successfully defending Indiana’s Voter Identification Law.
Yet he spent 75 minutes in the middle of Monon Bell week answering questions from a room full of wide-eyed 18- and 19-year-olds. “What did you do when you were on campus?” “What’s it like waiting for a Supreme Court decision?” “What would you do all over again at Wabash?”
It was an open and often brutally honest conversation, during which I observed the students seeing themselves in Tom Fisher; they were actually seeing — or at least imagining — their own futures. It was very cool and it was the kind of “Wabash moment” that occurs all the time around here — thanks to the generosity of spirit of Wabash’s alumni.
I’m thankful for Wabash’s teachers — all of them. Yes, I am thankful for those at Wabash who go by the title of professor and whose day-to-day work sustains this great institution.
But, as Professor Dan Rogers reminded the community in a Chapel talk last Thursday, getting an education stretches far beyond the classroom. A full and complete Wabash education includes chance encounters with people who work in the Business Office or a tough conversation with a coach after a difficult defeat. And in that respect, I continue to be a student at Wabash, constantly learning about myself and my place in this world.
I am thankful for my friends in this community who know that Wabash has had a difficult fall, and who cast a smile in my direction, extend a handshake, or provide words of encouragement… just when I need them the most.
This is a nurturing community filled with wonderful teachers and learners, doers and do-gooders. We are blessed with good public schools and caring teachers; churches, ministers, and congregations that honor all of our religious beliefs; and agencies, public and private, that look out for those so that they may not stumble.
Finally, I am thankful for my family. My immediate family here includes my loving wife, Chris, and my inspiring daughter, Sammie, without whom my life would have little meaning.
My extended family includes co-workers, friends, fellow board members, community volunteers, and kind souls who stop me on the street to say how much they look forward to reading these weekly words on Monday mornings.
While I reach this Thanksgiving holiday a bit ragged and worn, I am more than ever reminded of how fortunate I am to serve Wabash, live in this community, and have a family, near and far, that supports me.
May you find a peaceful hour this holiday week to drift off in your own sun-soaked reflection, and may you re-discover the everyday blessings that sustain you.