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By Ed Avella
Campus Director & Dean of IT Programs

Like most people, I lament my life’s problems until I or someone close to me is burdened by true misfortune or calamity. Traffic causing an intolerable long commute, the unforeseen bill or expense, gas prices, even a mistake on a dinner order – things I have allowed myself to get frustrated or upset over, that in the scheme of things are absolutely insignificant, only put into perspective by real hardship.

Over the past month I have seen true distress; my wife struggling with a neurological condition that makes sleep and sometimes even thinking impossible; my Grandparents displaced from their home at the Jersey shore by Hurricane Sandy, a home they’ve lived in without incident since 1962.

…and my 22 year old daughter battling recurrent cancer.

What right do I have to feel encumbered by anything as trivial as intermittent phone service when my family around me is laboring through real difficulty.

I don’t. I’d trade with any one of them that they wouldn’t have to endure what life has thrust upon them. I know I cannot, but Thanksgiving week is teaching me a great lesson on humility and appreciation.

Rather than be redundant and offer advice to “appreciate what you got,” I am going to use this piece more selfishly and thank them as well as everyone that has been an important part of my life this past year or more.

I thank my wife for being more amazing every day and showing me infinite patience; for sometimes being the adult in our marriage! My house became a home the day she showed up.

I thank my daughter, for being my miracle. Her strength is indomitable.

I thank my mother and father, for trying so hard for so many years to teach me the lessons they knew I could only learn by screwing them up anyway!

I thank my in-laws because my wife’s perspicacity, grace and principles come from the best stock; the type of people that make you better for just being around them.

I thank my grandparents, for being the role model for love that every couple should witness.

I thank Laura, the President of University of the Potomac; for her leadership, the opportunity to be part of something really special and important, and proof that the term “changing lives” is not rhetoric or a marketing line.

I thank my colleague Deb, for her unbridled spirit and tenacity; a beacon of verve amidst a sea of “blah.”

I thank the entire leadership team; Laura, Walt, Deb, Linda, James, Tim, Theresa, Vickey, and Mike, plus recent additions Danny (who isn’t new, but just started showing up), David and Alexandra – for being the “brain” of my “storm.” I could easily add what each of them brings to my life as individuals, but better to keep out the specifics and protect the innocent!

I thank my team; Adrian, Kim, and Yasir – as well as my students, for however few they are extraordinary – for being my muse. They are my inspiration!

I thank my friends, who still respond to my career as an educator with, “Wait. What?” I thank them for always being there.

Most of all, I thank God. For giving me this life I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Be selfishly thankful this year for all you have…

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