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From the Director

How do you love? Love is one of the most powerful emotions in the universe. It can lift you up to the highest highs. It can sustain and push you through the most difficult places of life. And for those who have been there, there are moments in life when it can seem to almost crush you from the inside out. But it won’t, love doesn’t work that way. With Valentine’s Day is a few weeks away, I was thinking this morning about all of ways we love. How do we let the people around us know they matter to us?
Romantic love is something that some say love can happen in an instant… My grandparents who were married for 70 years said that was how their love story began. He saw her and thought, that is the woman I am going to marry. He was the only man she ever dated and her mother gave her permission to go on a double date. They eloped and my grandmother would say, “ But we didn’t tell anyone.” A year later, he was drafted and found himself on the beaches of Normandy 5 days after the invasion. Their young marriage survived WWII and 2 years with
an ocean between them and countless letters to and from the battle lines. My dad was 2 years old before my grandfather ever held him. But maybe somehow they learned to cherish what they had because they realized the value of it when faced with a daily reality it might be lost. For as long as I can remember they held hands when they walked and she sat close to him on the bench seat of the car he drove. She will turn 93 in a few weeks, and he only passed away 4 years ago. In his hospital room at Fort Sanders just hours before he passed, he whispered to her, “But who is going to make you breakfast now?” Faced with leaving this world without her, his concern was for her. At the end of the day, love wasn’t about the big things, it was always about the little things, the details of life that fill in the story. Perhaps those are the reasons to keep falling in love with someone over and over again. Love is at the heart of brotherhood and sisterhood. Fraternal love is built over time not on generally unwrapped on bid day. When you join, you belong to a group of people who have
made a commitment to care about one another, look out for their best interest, like family. Love is foundational in a fraternity or a sorority. We show love when we take the time to build our relationships on a deeper level, beyond connecting on social media and sharing pictures and likes. We must dig into who people really are, what are their stories. We invest our time into actively listening to the heart of people. Connecting beyond letters and traditions, but through moments of bonding, laughter, or sometime sharing the pain and heartache of life. Brotherhood and sisterhood will test us sometimes. It is often messy and complicated. Yet looking at our brothers and sisters through the eyes of love and compassion is probably the best lens to have.
In those moments when you feel frustrated and begin to question is this worth all I am giving? I hope so. As I tell my children the first step in friendship is being the kind of friend to others that you want to have. The relationships in fraternities and sororities are timeless and can last well beyond the college years. Whenever you see someone with grey hair come to an event, just ask them and they will tell you what brotherhood or sisterhood has come to mean to them.

So this Valentine’s Season, don’t forget… it’s not just about romantic love, but think about how do I love and appreciation for the people who matter most to me.
In my own work, I chose to lead with my heart. At the end of the day, I want you to know that I care about our students and the fraternity and sorority experience. The people in my office care and pour themselves out in service to you in little unseen ways every day. We do what we do in working toward a better community out of a deep love for this experience and the people who are a part of it. We are all in this together.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Kelly

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

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