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Weekly Wisdom 014 - Daria J. Willis

Bridget Burns and Paul Fain invite the president of Everett Community College, Daria J. Willis. President Willis has been leading Everett since last year, but also served as the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Onondaga Community College.

A Sense of What Daria is Going Through Currently

Daria first noted that most of her students go through a pandemic of their own, even before the onset of COVID-19 due to coming from underserved communities. Although school gets increasingly challenging daily, she finds it to be a labor of love and an honor to uplift her community.

What are the Unique Struggles of Her Students?

The pandemic exacerbated the issues that students and even faculty staff already faced like

  • Food insecurity
  • Lack of internet connectivity.

In response to these issues, they set up a large computer lab, but the onset of the pandemic made them open up to new partnerships to help their students. Some of those partnerships brought about Chromebooks for students, WiFi’s, food from the Volunteers of America, and more.

How Does She Set Herself and Her Team Up For the Future Forecast?

While she hopes for a way to tell the future, since it is impossible, she encourages her staff to stay updated on the current events. They also have staff meetings and ask for student’s feedback.

What Lessons Did they Learn in the Spring that Will Change in the Fall?

In the beginning, most of the faculty weren’t ready to move into online learning, but now they are trying to help faculty adapt to online learning. They are also trying to open up to hybrid learning in line with CDC protocols. In the spirit of never wasting a crisis, they plan to start their strategic planning for now, the next year, and the farther future.

What is Her Advice for People Dealing with Uncertainty?

Daria simply states that anything worth having is worth fighting for. Everyone has to fight for what they want. Find whatever makes you feel better, do it, and work hard.

Although listening to Michelle Obama’s Book On Becoming helps, Daria enjoys her peloton sessions to sweat out her frustrations. Her faith also helps her while keeping up with her bible plan and having family time.

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