November 25, 2020

"And Yet, We Are Still Thankful"

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be a great understatement. It is almost as if we expect bizarre and unfortunate events to happen this year.  A variety of challenges from social unrest to racial injustice to extreme weather to radically divisive politics and more have surrounded this unprecedented health pandemic.  COVID-19 not only has dramatically altered our lives, our work, our health and so many other aspects of what we knew as “normal”, it has hung a cloud of despondency and gloom around the globe.  But through it all, we have witnessed a number of amazing events for which we should be grateful.  It would be easy to throw up our hands amidst this seemingly never-ending nightmarish existence.  And yet, we are still thankful.

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Some may be familiar with the unlikely story of Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton. recently chronicled their story that started four years ago when Wanda unknowingly texted Jamal to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. She mistakenly thought she was texting her grandson.  Jamal willingly accepted the errant invitation along with his girlfriend, Mikaela.  They not only shared that dinner but every Thanksgiving dinner since as they became fast friends with Wanda and her husband, Lonnie.  Sadly, in April, Lonnie passed away due to COVID-19 complications. And yet, they are still thankful.  The new “family” members continued their annual tradition and honored Lonnie’s memory at an early Thanksgiving dinner last week.

This year Thanksgiving may be different.  We may not have, nor should we have as many people around the table (many smartly cancelled the annual large gathering at “Big Mama’s” house) but we can still enjoy a hearty meal of turkey, ham, gumbo, beans, rolls, cranberry sauce, yams, potatoes, pies, “You Name It!”. We can watch the football games and we can reminisce.  And we now know that we also can zoom in those who would normally be together. After all, it’s 2020, the year of adapting to make it work.

No matter how you do the holidays, please remember to be thankful.  Be grateful for all the good that has occurred. Be grateful for the many blessings that have happened in your personal life.  Be grateful to be able to do the good work that you do.  Be grateful to be alive.  

On behalf of the Board of AABHE, we are thankful for each of you.  We are grateful for your many contributions and for the work that you do to help others succeed.  It has indeed been a tough year, but it also has been a year full of large and small reasons to express our gratitude. 


Our 2021 AABHE Virtual Annual Conference will be held March 15-16th.  We will be delivering as much of our regular annual conference content as we can possibly deliver in an engaging virtual format.  Nikki Giovanni is confirmed as our keynote speaker.  Additionally, great speakers, panels, sessions, awards, and even social events are all being planned.  “See you” next March…


“It’s all about the students”,

Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr
Dr. Dereck J. Rovaris, Sr.
President, AABHE