Dear Colleagues and Friends,
“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell
It is that time of year when we begin to think about closure — closing our books, filing our course materials, cleaning out our rooms or offices, pulling the door shut, stopping, finally, to take a deep breath after so many months of effort. As students enter finals week, commencement approaches for our graduates, and faculty and staff begin the process of recharging and planning for the next academic year, reflection on the passing year is inevitable. Closure is part of the academic journey — a time to pause, a time to reflect. And then, we begin again.
At Valpo, we often talk about journeys — both personal and professional — and the end of an academic year is just one milestone in our journey together, a marker indicating that it is now time to recharge the imagination, embolden the spirit to serve, and invite fresh inquiry into and critical thinking about challenging subjects. The end of an academic year opens new doors and propels members of the Valpo community — students, graduates, faculty, and staff — into new and exciting phases of their journeys — whether it be a summer job, an internship, a research project, a new career, a service trip, or a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Here are a few examples.
In just a couple weeks, students from Valpo’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders will travel to Tanzania, continuing their good work on a canal rehabilitation project in the remote village of Masaera in the Kilema district near Mount Kilimanjaro.
At about the same time, the University Chorale will tour Germany and perform at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian Bach served as cantor. The cherished friendship Valpo has held for the past decade with the St. Thomas Church will be formalized to ensure its longevity. A group of Valpo alumni and faculty touring Germany will join the Chorale in Leipzig for this memorable performance and signing ceremony.
In late June and throughout most of July, five students, who will graduate from Valpo on May 20, will undertake two significant Christian pilgrimages. The first to Taizé, France, for the Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth. They follow a visit to the Taizé community with a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, where they will hike the trails on the Way to St. James.
Later in the summer, sophomore Andrew Denecke will travel to Africa as part of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative Fellowship program, educating and learning about the effects of malaria, a treatable and preventable disease that kills more than 800,000 people a year.
These are but a few examples of the ways in which summer Valpo journeys open new opportunities.
For our graduates, the end of this academic year represents both a poignant closure and the beginning of a new and exciting, but uncertain journey. Perhaps the journey involves a new vocation, a new job, relocation to an unfamiliar place, or additional studies toward an advanced degree.
Though we may briefly go our separate ways, we can rest assured that we will see one other again — whether it is later this summer, at the start of the fall semester, or at a future alumni reception or Homecoming weekend. Because within all of our individual journeys, there is a constant — and that is Valpo.
I wish you God’s blessings and Godspeed at this invigorating moment in our lives. And I eagerly look forward to the time when our paths will cross again.
Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.