Attitude of Gratitude

by Rebecca Hannigan

Even after countless lectures, seminars, and discussions throughout a student’s academic life, some basic skills are never lost from their early foundation, including the proper response of saying “thank you” when someone deserves it — an attitude which is clearly alive and well in Sewanee with the Gratitude Project.

Students express this large-scale “thank you” through letters, personally written for each of the approximately 800 faculty and staff members whose hard work often goes unnoticed.

Each individual plays a significant role in maintaining Sewanee’s success as a smooth operation.  From professors to the police, McClurg staff to Physical Plant Services (PPS) and everywhere in between — the ultimate goal of this movement is to “make everyone feel appreciated,” according to project leader Roshni Walia (C’14).

Both Walia and Jane Brown (C’13) are spearheading the project for its second year in existence, uniting various groups to encourage action from the entire student body. This collaboration instigates conversation about how much students owe to those who make Sewanee thrive. “They deserve it,” Walia said earnestly from her seat at a table stacked with stationery, pens, and an impressive list of names. “They receive paychecks, but what reward are they getting as an individual person, not as a mere worker?”

Such thankfulness is contagious, and Walia and Brown hope it continues to spread. Faculty members have been assisting as well; Dean Hartman provided the note-writing supplies, and McClurg accommodated space for storage. Students have been writing personal notes, but in order to ensure that each of the 800 faculty/staff members receives one, more help is needed. Project leaders still seek more involvement and will announce future dates for more letter-writing and “thank you”-telling.

As the Gratitude Project continues and will eventually conclude, gratefulness should still carry on. Students should recognize the unique personalities of those whose hard work contributes to their lives at Sewanee on a daily basis.