Progress Notes | December 2020

There is no question the holiday season will look different for us this year. Due to the nationwide pandemic surge, the Centers for Disease Control is advising us to celebrate the holidays at home, limit travel, and avoid gatherings with people other than those you live with.

Even though these advisories seem disheartening, I hope that we can all share a gift of optimism by focusing on feelings of gratitude for what we hold dear. Our health, our families, art, music, books, pets, and religious freedom are some examples that come to mind. The everyday miracles of life are so easy to take for granted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see and appreciate them anew!

Preeminent 20th century psychologist Martin Seligman pioneered the technique “three good things,” a guided exercise of redirecting attention toward positive thoughts and away from negative ones. In a nutshell, the technique suggests every evening we think of three good things, write them down, and reflect on why they happened. Seligman suggests with regular practice, we can lessen depression and unhappiness.

Starting December 1, I began keeping a private journal in which I write down three good things each day and my thoughts on what made them possible. Please join me if you feel this could be helpful for sustaining your optimism and happiness through our challenging times.

I leave you with a marvelous example that made headlines of how one person’s positivity drastically changed the life of another

Warmest wishes for the holiday season,
Lee A. Learman

Art for the Journey
Azziza Bankole, Angelica Witcher, Stephanie Hairston


  • Azziza Bankole named chief diversity officer at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Angelica Witcher, director of student affairs and instructor of interprofessionalism, successfully defended her dissertation defense titled, Investigating Academic and Psychosocial Outcomes of First-Generation African American Postsecondary Students who completed Early College Access Programming: A Qualitative Case Study on Friday, December 4. She now has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech
  • Stephanie Hairston has moved her receptionist duties from Riverside 2 to Riverside 4
  • The following faculty members were honored recently in Carilion Clinic's Cheers for Peers newsletter: Chinekwu Anyanwu, James Casey, Paul Dallas, Gregory Dehmer, Anthony Loschner, TK Miller, Joseph Moskal, Jon Sweet, Daniel Tershak, Robert Trestman, and Fidel Valea.

    More about their accomplishments

Quinn Adams, Robyn Lynch, Martha Mullins

Welcome to VTCSOM

  • Quinn Adams, Faculty Affairs Coordinator
  • Robyn Lynch, Riverside 2 Receptionist
  • Martha Mullins, Business Manager
  • Braelyn Simpson, Senior Fiscal Technician (not pictured)

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Registration is open for Virginia Tech’s Advancing Diversity Virtual Gathering on January 12, 2021.
  • Do you have aging relatives? Will they need your support to age well?
    Our recent Lunch and Learn focused on relevant information about what caring for an aging relative entails and why you and your loved ones should prepare. This session was full of great information and resources.

December Interfaith Celebrations

  • Hanukkah (Jewish). December 8-December 18
    Also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday
    commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC.
  • Christmas (Christian). December 24 (Christmas Eve)-December 25
    A season of the Christian year following Advent and preceding Epiphany. Is a time of gatherings celebrating family, friends, and traditions.
  • Kwanzaa (African American/Pan-African). December 25-January 1
    An African American and Pan-African holiday celebrating family, community and culture. Kwanzaa is a secular observance with some religious participation. Seven life virtues are presented.

Humanism Note

Group singing, which generates respiratory droplets at high rates in close quarters, dramatically increases chances of COVID spread. Linked to multiple outbreaks, choirs have been silenced in most places. But that didn’t stop conductor and composer Eric Whitacre from assembling the largest choir in history to perform his new piece “Sing Gently.” The 17,572 singers were socially distanced online. The singers range from 5 to 89 years old and represent 129 countries. Each had submitted videotaped vocals to Whitacre, who painstakingly stitched them into a massive online chorus, viewed so far by 1.4 million on YouTube.

Here are the words to the song:
May we sing together, always
May our voice be soft
May our singing be music for others
And may it keep others aloft
Sing gently, always
Sing gently as one
May we stand together, always
May our voice be strong
May we hear the singing and
May we always sing along
Sing gently, always
Sing gently as one.

Take Note

Upcoming Events

Tenth Annual Delta Dental of Virginia Oral Health (Virtual) Endowed Lecture
Linsey C. Marr, Ph.D. will present The Role of Aerosols in the Transmission of COVID-19 on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 7 p.m.
Open to the public. Registration is required

collage of six items in the VTCSOM store: owl bracelet, painted notecards, elephant purse, VTCSOM christmas ornaments, starbucks giftcards, toolbox

The Last Note

The Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign ends this Friday, so don’t miss out on some of these items from the VTCSOM Virtual Holiday Store!

In this season of giving, remember that the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign helps support dozens of charitable organizations across the state, most of which have fallen upon extra hard times due to the pandemic. We’re thankful at the time of press, VTCSOM employees have raised more than $7,300. A purchase from the holiday store will raise our generous donation even higher.

Make a donation here.
View items in the store here

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