Home Opinion A Letter to the HEXS Class of 2020

A Letter to the HEXS Class of 2020


Consider this note a celebratory embrace for your accomplishments and contributions to the Roanoke College community. The HEXS faculty have appreciated the many opportunities we’ve had to support your development – intellectually, emotionally, socially, and professionally – and we can’t wait to see where life will take you. Before we send you off, I want you to know that you are extraordinary. While we are certainly in the midst of unprecedented and extraordinary times, you are extraordinary for reasons you may not realize.

Do you realize that, as a class, you experienced more change than any other class of HEXS majors in Roanoke College history? You are the first class to complete the entire HEXS program from our new home in the Cregger Center. Together, we shared the growing pains and delights of establishing roots in our new classrooms and lab spaces. Do you remember the first time you measured VO2max in the Human Performance lab? I do, and it was awesome.

Then you helped us welcome Dr. Artese to our faculty line-up, embracing a shift in HEXS culture that we had been thirsting for. Do you remember the first time you experienced her energy in the classroom? I do, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life; I hope you will, too.

As you began to settle into your academic home in the HEXS major, we turned the program on its head, implementing the biggest programmatic overhaul in HEXS history. Do you remember how it felt to see Research Methods, Nutrition, Strength and Conditioning, and Neuromechanics offered for the first time? I do, and it gave me goosebumps. As a class, you could’ve stayed the course and continued with the old major, yet none of you did. You ran to new, challenging opportunities while we held our proverbial breath through the first iterations of six brand new or highly altered courses. You showed us incredible grace and enthusiasm through these transitions… you are extraordinary.

Now you’ve departed Dear Old Roanoke in a flurry, into a world that none of us recognize, looking at a future that is uncertain yet full of opportunity. As you prepare for lives as responsible citizens, you will continue to serve, lead, and grow in ways you never imagined. I hope you will look back at our community with fondness and remember how special your time was with us. You will continue to weather unexpected changes in life, yet because you’ve already established a pattern of embracing change with grace and gusto, I have no doubt that you will approach those challenges with the same extraordinary enthusiasm you assumed through the many changes we threw your way.

As we acknowledge the sadness of your abrupt departure, let’s also celebrate your readiness for the ever-changing thing we call life. You are ready; you are extraordinary.

With love,

Dr. Ackley