Editorial: Rowan Continued to Succeed This Semester Despite Unique Challenges

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While every school year brings its unique challenges, this particular semester has met the Rowan community with obstacles we never before had to consider. Clearly, the challenges in question are related to the nearly year-long pandemic that forced our campus and others across the country to shift to a virtual learning environment in March. We have now (almost) completed an entire semester remotely or with restricted physical interaction.

Rather than dwell on the redundant challenges we’ve faced during this time, we should focus on what we as a community have achieved. What follows are some of the successes that the Rowan community can be proud of this semester:

Rowan has continued to expand its offerings for students. This semester, the sports communication and media major (Sports CaM) announced a new esports concentration to help educate students on the growing esports industry. Also within the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts (CCCA), the Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication held its first-ever workshop to examine the power of women’s votes in the 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which allowed white women to vote. The center plans to host more workshops in the future.

The Rowan community has also experienced great successes among its students, alumni and faculty. Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM secured five awards at the 19th Annual College Broadcasters Incorporated (CBI) National Student Production Awards, which was accomplished through the dedication and talent of the students. Also, five alumni from the class of 2018 started their own company (Bicoastal Labs) and invented a way to make policing safer. The group of friends decided to put their talents and passions together to make an impact, and though the product is still in development, it’s making great progress.

In addition to student and alumni success, faculty members have also worked for their own achievements this semester. Dr. Harold Connolly, chair of Rowan’s geology department, led the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission to collect samples from Bennu, an ancient asteroid that will give scientists a look at the beginnings of the solar system and potentially even life on Earth. Connolly played an enormous role in a project that may change what we know about the universe around us. Additionally, Penny Kempf, associate athletic director and former head coach of Rowan’s field hockey team, will be officially inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Hall of Fame at their next in-person meeting. During her career as a Rowan coach, Kempf made a tremendous impact on the team, leading them to a national championship win and 253 wins total, and the NFHCA Hall of Fame induction is something of which she and the Rowan community can be proud. Dr. JoAnne Bullard, assistant professor for the School of Health Professions, published a study on the impact of COVID-19 on student athletes’ mental health in The Sport Journal, which she hopes will help them find the support they need within their athletic departments.

Speaking of support within the community, the Rowan community has come together throughout the semester to show support for their peers and for others outside of the community. The Women of Color Alliance (WOCA) held a “Say Her Name” march this semester to honor Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her own home by police earlier this year. The march was a way to voice the concerns that impact Black women every day, as they are different from the experiences of white women or Black men. The fourth annual Rowan United event was hosted virtually by Hillel and the Muslim Student Association to create a space to talk about current issues and to create unity despite differences of beliefs.

The support, success and new endeavors listed above are just the highlights of what the Rowan community has accomplished this semester. In our first editorial this semester, we pondered how the semester would turn out, if the pandemic would hinder us academically or otherwise. We had hoped — with uncertainty due to the unpredictability of the future — that we would succeed despite the added challenges. As we close out the fall semester, our hopes have turned into a reality again and again as the Rowan community keeps pushing for success.

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