Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi

As a society, we face many challenges in our ever-changing world. The tumultuous events of this past year have changed many people’s perspective on the future. Our planet is threatened by climate change and human-made toxins that threaten us and the animals that share our environment. Closer to home, we are confronted with increasing pressures to provide high quality education for the next generation of scientists and veterinarians, while the state and federal resources for higher education are under siege. On a daily basis, our staff and faculty strive for excellence, but face challenges ranging from the intense competition for grant funding to crowded exam rooms. Our students struggle to find time for their own wellness, while under the stress of an intense curriculum and the cost of paying back their student loans. We all have our burdens to bear, which can seem impossible to overcome, especially during a holiday season that may inadvertently add the pressure to feel happy when we may not feel like rejoicing. 

Faculty, staff and students often gather for TGIF events to de-stress and come together as a community.

In these times of stress, we must rely on our core values as a community to perform our work and support each other. It may be helpful to reflect on what we have accomplished as a community. I routinely receive letters from grateful clients to our hospital who comment on a staff member or student who went above and beyond their job requirements to help them in their time of need or comforted them at a time of loss. Throughout our school, I see teams working together to discover new knowledge about disease mechanisms, exchanging ideas to find new treatments for ailments facing animals and people, and generally striving to serve our society to the best of their abilities. Our faculty, staff, and students routinely bring an attitude of excellence to what needs to be accomplished each day, not seeking attention beyond their own satisfaction of a job well done.

To see evidence of our good deeds, we only need to view the news stories and videos documenting the impact our people and programs are making in our society. These stories demonstrate how we are changing the world through our innovative research programs that forge new discoveries through interdisciplinary research. A brief review of our history reveals our extensive legacy of creating new and fundamental knowledge in biomedical and agricultural science. Our clinicians, house officers and their staff daily demonstrate their knowledge and skill as they compassionately care for their animal patients and their human families.  As a result, our Veterinary Hospital leads the world in excellence in veterinary care, creating the future of veterinary medicine.

The news this past year documented the accomplishments of our amazing students who not only excelled in the classroom, but worked in communities throughout California and the world to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment. Their energy and enthusiasm to make a difference sets them up for being the next leaders in society, not only in science and medicine, but also as community leaders. Our California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory faculty and staff come to work each day to protect our food supply and public health. They quietly solve mysteries protecting us from impending epidemics and set standards in high quality results that gain the trust of the stakeholders they serve. Less commonly in the news are our educators who routinely push themselves to bring novel approaches to our classrooms and teaching laboratories to stimulate students to be life-long learners. They are driven by an innate desire to foster the passion for learning in our students that they feel deep in their soul.

In all of these examples, we see evidence of our people doing what is necessary to create what is possible within their sphere of influence. Collectively, by doing our jobs, we are making a difference in our world. While we may not be able to control world events, we can bring our core values, talents, and compassion to work each day. In doing so, we are making what seemed impossible become a reality.