I’ve been thinking about you as we all struggle to grasp the magnitude of the problems facing us collectively as human beings, as Americans, as New Yorkers. A few weeks ago, we were each caught up in our individual pursuits—striving to learn, to create, to contribute. Today, we struggle with fear of the unknown, wondering how the corona virus will impact our families, our friends, our plans for the near future as well as for the long haul.
Macaulay Honors College [then called the CUNY Honors College] opened its doors in September 2001, a few days before two airplanes tore into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11, puncturing the feeling of invulnerability that was associated with youth and with being a New Yorker. Grim images of the death and destruction at what would become Ground Zero were everywhere. Bridges were closed and lists of the missing were circulated.
In that tense moment, I called the 186 students in the class of 2005 to a meeting at the Hunter College School of Social Work, then located on E.79th St, to reassure them that their college would continue to function, their scholarships were intact, and their future remained bright. The frightened faces of those young students remain etched in my memory. Terrorism was a stranger to American shores, but it was familiar to many of our immigrant students who came to the US to put distance between themselves and the unsolved problems of nations and tribes.
Today, those students are successful alumni—sharing their medical, legal, and financial expertise in facing the new crisis. I suggest you take a moment to reflect on their path—through graduation, to graduate and professional schools, to jobs, building families—many supporting and mentoring current Macaulay students. Take strength from their example and keep working toward your goals. We live in difficult times and need the collective wisdom and tenacity of all to assist those among us who require help.
For the past 14 years I have had the pleasure of teaching Macaulay students at Hunter College. I know that you are a remarkable group of young people from diverse backgrounds who learn as much from each other as from your professors. Maintaining the esprit de corps created in each of the colleges and collectively at Macaulay on 67th St. will be a challenge in the coming weeks as we all learn new ways to communicate at a distance. We will learn new strengths as individuals and as a community in the process.
Wishing you all well as we work together to address the common challenge,
Professor Laura Schor