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Sharon Zuber is the 55th recipient of the Jefferson Award. Photo by Stephen Salpukas.

Receiving the Thomas Jefferson award has given me an opportunity to reflect on the tradition of “community” at William & Mary that has made my job possible.

I’ve been known to confess that I liked college so much that I never left! Why?  I value the spaces – the physical, intellectual, and spiritual spaces – that define our College. In this W&M Community, we are given an opportunity to grow, to thrive, to embrace tradition while redefining and revising that tradition in dynamic ways that often cross disciplinary boundaries.  One example of this process is how the COLLege curriculum builds on and re-visions our Liberal Arts tradition, encouraging us to think in new ways, and one of these spaces is our own Writing Resources Center.

When working on the documentary about the Gloucester, VA, watermen, I learned that a Chesapeake Bay blue crab molts as many as 20 times before reaching maturity.  As learners and educators, we also go through “moltings” – growing and shedding old ways of thinking, working through feelings of discomfort and resistance.  The W&M community provides a place for us to take risks, to experience different cultures, a place that values innovation and critical thinking and encourages collaboration.  At its best, our community gives us a safe space, like the writing center, to try on new ideas and be vulnerable – laying a foundation for our future.

Some of you may choose academics, but every person here has the potential to become a co-creator, a designer, within your chosen communities – those of your family, the workplace, and around the globe; you can do this by building into these spaces support for creativity, compassion, and social justice.

If you do, you will be following in the footsteps of W&M alums who are continuing their education on Broadway stages; at Standing Rock; in the Peace Corps; being thoughtful, supportive partners and parents; coaching and playing sports; producing events and documentaries; and even directing writing centers.

I am proud to be a part of this W&M community and thankful for all of the people who have given me an opportunity to continue to grow and learn!

But I want you to know – I’m still molting.

Thank You.