Friday Focus: Spring, hope and delayed gratification
May 19, 2023
— By Nettie La Belle-Hamer, vice chancellor for research
Here at UAF, you know that spring is here when your eyes water and you see green. Traditionally that has been tied to pollen counts soaring along with the geese coming back and then, pop! Green-up! That day when the trees have gone miraculously from brown to green, seemingly overnight. Spring is here!
This spring I noticed another way to view the same phenomenon by spending a week watching freshly graduated college students achieve their dreams, walk across a stage, and transition into a new career. For the record, I have never made it through commencement with dry eyes and when students successfully transition the green starts flowing into their banks. Watery eyes, check. Green, check. Spring is so inspiring and renews my faith in the education process, every single year.
Spring is about hope. Spring is about new beginnings. At UAF, spring brings us graduations, musk ox babies, newly planted fields, and ambitious research proposals – all things inspired by hope but requiring delayed gratification for success. To me, hope combined with some hard work and delayed gratification are essential ingredients to a well-lived life – and an integral part of our strategic planning. All good things come to those who wait, as long as you are working very hard while you wait.
And, here at UAF, we are each working hard, in our own ways, toward our long-term goals for UAF to modernize the student experience, strengthen our position as global leaders in Alaska Native and Indigenous programs, achieve R1 research status, transform UAF’s intellectual property development and commercialization enterprise, and embrace and grow a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion, and caring. Whew. That's a lot.
Each goal requires hard work from many people. Each goal has embedded an expectation of delayed gratification. These goals also hold within them hope for the future. How do we keep hope alive through the trials and tribulations of daily life, challenges such as budget woes, political barriers, and reduced staffing? Shawn Achor said in Harvard Business Review that “resilience is about how you recharge not how you endure” [HBR June 2016]. I love that. We can tap into spring as a way to recharge going forward. As we embrace spring of 2023, we can no longer focus on how to survive. It is not enough to get us to our big goals. We need to lift our sights to the future and focus on what we want. This small change in outlook reaps big dividends in our feelings of hope for the future.
Last week Jimmie Herrod sang “Tomorrow” on the Herring auditorium stage right here in Fairbanks. (Thank you, Fairbanks Concert Association!) My reaction was visceral as I listened to his beautiful voice fill the room and felt hope fill my heart. As we left the auditorium that night, I was thinking about all the great and wonderful things about living in Alaska, the people in my life, and the work I do at UAF. Hope builds within us when we focus on our strengths, maximize our successes, and look at all the possibilities.
We are the Nanook Nation and the possibilities are indeed endless. We got this, UAF!
Friday Focus is written by a different member of UAF’s leadership team every week.