President Maureen O'Connor's Holiday 2021 Message

December 17, 2021
Winter Break Gratitude
A Gratitude List, Despite Challenging Times 
As the year comes to a close, gratitude is the word that comes to mind as I reflect on 2021 and all of you who make up the PAU Community. You have shown incredible strength and resilience during challenging times, and it does not go unnoticed. I know the holiday season means different things to each of us as we observe cultural customs in our own ways. For many, it’s a time for connection, giving back and helping others. It is also a time for reflection, remembrance, and gratitude, which I want to share with you. I am so grateful for:
Our students, who have shown an extraordinary commitment to their work, both academically and for the many hours of service they offer our communities as volunteers and advocates, in internships and at practicum sites. Like many of you, students such as Ayanna Payne and Francesca Pedraza, are already making a mark in the field. Your determination, focus and hard work makes me proud every day.
Our faculty, who have worked tirelessly under less-than-ideal circumstances through all the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring our students continue to receive an exceptional education. All the while, you have continued to innovate – your accomplishments astound me as you contribute research and leadership on behalf of greater mental health. I am so proud of the work you do and the recognition you receive. A few examples, among many, include the accomplishments of Sita Patel, Rachel Jacoby, Kimberly Balsam, and Ricardo Muñoz, to name only a few.
Our staff, who are the backbone of everything we do. It truly takes a village to keep a university, no matter its size, running smoothly, let alone during a pandemic. From our Student Affairs team to our Business Office and IT staff, we would not be operating the way we do without you. I am so very grateful as you remain steadfast behind the scenes to serve our community.
Our alumni, who are on the frontlines, addressing pressing and emerging mental health issues daily. The need for experienced, compassionate mental health professionals cannot be underestimated and you are helping meet an ever-growing need. You are also using your training to innovate in a variety of ways and your impact is noticed. Your wonderful achievements make us proud. We wrote about many of you this year, including these stories about Jodi Pinn, Monique Cano, Nicholas Grant and Johanna Rengifo.
Our supporters, who make all of what we do possible. Whether you volunteer your time, provide financial support or your professional expertise, your passion and generosity are deeply appreciated as you help us be the best university we can be. This year, I am extremely grateful for your donations to our Student Emergency Fund and to a very special donor who enabled the creation of ten scholarships of $10,000 each for Spanish-speaking, Latinx undergraduate students. I am also grateful to our Board of Trustees, who recently welcomed three new amazing members. You move us forward in ways we could not do without you.
I hope you find time to rest, relax and recharge in the company of loved ones, whether that be virtually or safely in person. Have a wonderful, safe, and healthy holiday season. 

My very best wishes for a happy new year.
Maureen O'Connor
Palo Alto University