Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Deac families! We look forward to having your students back for the spring semester. But before they are back, and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I challenge them to think about a few things they could do differently in the spring semester:

Increase your news literacy. This could come in a number of ways: take the excellent Fake News workshop offered by the ZSR Library (or check out one of their research guides), read/watch coverage of the same news story from different media outlets and think critically about the differences in how those stories are covered, fact-check things before you post to social media (Snopes.com is a good source, but there are others).

Get to know at least one faculty member well. That begins by having an interest in their class or teaching style, and grows by regular visits to that professor’s office hours. Do the same for staff or administrators. Having close personal relationships that we can learn and grow from makes us all better people. And at some point if the chips are down and you need help – and we all will at some point! – you will have a network to draw upon for help.

Eat and shop local. The more Winston-Salem businesses and restaurants thrive, the better off our city will be. I know shopping online or going to big chains is convenient, but think about the impact you can have when you support local businesses and restaurants in town. And don’t just go to your favorite food haunts, branch out.

Refrain from saying negative things. Try an experiment: for one week, refrain from complaining and/or making negative comments (about yourself or other people). We are what we encourage, so if you reject negative talk and only speak in positive terms, it stands to reason that you will feel happier and more positive in your life. Read more from the Mayo Clinic.

Take a walk in nature. Whether that is a hike on Pilot Mountain, a trip to Salem Lake, or a long walk through Reynolda Gardens, moving your body in nature is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety.

Write notes. Real ones, on paper. Tell someone why you are grateful – for something they did, or to a mentor who has helped you, maybe even write a proper a love letter.  Words are cherished by the ones who receive them.

Support your hallmates and classmates in their endeavors.  Do you know a student athlete? Go to their game.  Have a friend who is a musician? Go to their concert.

Go to a Secrest Artist Series performance.  They are free for students, and beauty and art are part of what make life worth living.

Register to vote. I don’t care who you vote for, but I do care that you vote. Research the issues that matter to you. See where the candidates stand. Determine if you are going to stay registered at home (and request an absentee ballot) or register in NC. And then vote – no matter how busy your day is, if it is raining, etc. Do your civic duty and vote your conscience.

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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