2019 Retrospective: Learning to Be Grateful

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

With Thanksgiving approaching, I’d like to share how grateful I am for the 2019 journey of USF Corporate Training and Professional Education. If you’ve previously read this blog, you know I sometimes draw from the well of sports for inspiration. (Spoiler alert: I’m about to do it again!) What follows is how our office borrowed a storied basketball team’s 36-year-old rallying cry to help us press on when faced with extraordinary circumstances.

learning to be thankful

One Monday morning early in the year, our team gathered for its weekly operations meeting. Just before we jumped into the agenda, Kim, our assistant director, said she had a major announcement. With a big smile, she told us she was pregnant! The room was still buzzing when Nancy, our marketing manager, said she, too, had something big to share. Maybe you’ve probably already figured it out—she was also pregnant! At that point, I’m not sure if we ever got around to continuing the meeting.


With Kim and Nancy pregnant at the same time, it wasn’t too early to begin thinking of contingency plans for when they’d eventually take their maternity leaves—pretty much simultaneously. How would we absorb their high-level responsibilities while they were gone? That’s when the mantra made famous by Jim Valvano, the head coach of the 1982-83 North Carolina State men’s basketball team during their epic run to a national championship came to mind: Survive and advance.


That was the message our office needed to hear. We’d find a way to endure, carrying out the office’s work until we were fully staffed again. I knew Kim and Nancy’s extended absence would be felt, but I was also certain we could work through it with excellent preparation. And, thankfully, that’s what happened. The entire team has pulled together by accepting additional roles to pick up the slack. Kim and Nancy, by the way, now have beautiful two-month-old daughters who were born only a week apart in September.


Two great lessons have emerged from the temporary loss of Kim and Nancy. The first is it reinforced how important their contribution is to the overall function of the office—their expertise, intuition, and character. Secondly, the remaining team members—our operations manager, program advisors, logistics manager, and registration personnel have soldiered through a challenging stretch of time in an exemplary manner. We survived and advanced—and I’m very grateful!


On behalf of the USF Corporate Training and Professional Education family, I want to wish you and yours a happy holiday season!