We Are Thankful For…

Posted: November 22, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

TheDaily Gazette asked readers to tell us what they are thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving 2004. The Gazette staff is thankful for the many people—faculty, staff, and students—who shared their thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for all my wonderful social work students, as they will admirably carry on a profession I love and the people of this country need. I am personally thankful for those who will go into gerontology because before too long, as a baby boomer, I may need them!

—Carolyn Ericson, Faculty, Social Work

I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue adolescent and adult reading research at the Krasnow Institute now that I’m past 65. If the feds think our work is as important as I do, you’ll see me around a few more years—at least, I hope you will.

—Barbara K. Given, director, Adolescent and Adult Learning Research Center, Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, and director, Center for Honoring Individual Learning Diversity and International Learning Style

I’m thankful for being alive, really. My birthday falls on the day of this feature, so it really highlights my gratitude for being here, especially when so many are dying needlessly around the world. I’m also really thankful for movie popcorn, my dog, curly hair, Jeffrey Wendel (my sweetheart), red boots, and students who claim my work with them means a lot.

—Carrie Wright, adjunct professor, English

I have many things to be thankful for:

Two healthy, funny sons who are a joy to know

A happy marriage—something that seems to be a rare commodity

Wonderful educational opportunities right here—free classes for faculty and staff are the greatest (and most underused) benefit we have at Mason

Dollar stores—a shopaholic’s best friend

The right to vote and the right to complain publicly when the vote doesn’t go my way

Turkey leftovers, when so many people haven’t enough to eat

—Lori Petterson, Finance Office, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and senior BIS major

When I was a young adult, I joined a Bible study group and realized that the people in the group had something I didn’t—a relationship with God that was unknown to me, even though I had been raised in the church. After much prayer and many questions, I learned that all that I had to do to have this personal relationship with Christ was to ask Him to be my personal savior. I prayed this with a friend on a Thanksgiving morning. Even more than 25 years later, Thanksgiving always reminds me of this great gift.

—Janet Merritt, instructor, College of Nursing and Health Science

Thanksgiving marks the one year passing of my father. I’m thankful that I had a loving father who taught me the importance of family. Although he is gone, his presence still remains in our family, and we have each other to love.

—Cindy Stocks, production manager, Creative Services

I am thankful for my job at George Mason. It is a pleasure to come to work in such a dynamic environment each day knowing that my efforts are appreciated and that I am valued as a member of the George Mason staff. I love my job because I am able to help recognize our outstanding employees—what a positive daily endeavor!

—Martha Reiner, awards coordinator, Human Resources

I am thankful that I don’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day anymore! I used to be the director of catering and member services at a country club in Great Falls. We had a huge buffet that was very popular, and my job was to assign tables for more than 500 reservations throughout the day. It was very stressful, and the worst part was being away from home on a holiday that celebrates family. Now I get two-and-a-half days off without using any leave, and I am thankful for every minute that I get to spend with my own family.

—Heather Aleknavage, administrative and program specialist, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and staff senator, Fairfax Campus

A year ago at this time, I made the decision to leave a company I’d been with for 14 years and look outside the industry I’d worked in since 1977. I was fortunate enough to be considered as a temp for a Human Resources and Payroll position with George Mason and then was offered the opportunity to apply for the permanent position. What has made this such a positive move (and one of my many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving) is the professional attitude and the professional accord I’m granted for applying my “private industry” experience and knowledge. The pervasive George Mason University culture of treating all as valued contributors is unusual in my experience in the industry I had worked in. This culture is one of the main reasons I turned down several job offers while I was awaiting the results of applying for the permanent position. My Thanksgiving 2004 is truly a time of appreciating the blessings I’m enjoying—especially the opportunity to work here at George Mason.

—Susan F. Kehoe-Laptew, Benefits Accountant, Human Resources and Payroll

I am blessed and thus thankful for innumerable things that I can hardly find words to describe: the fact that I am of strong mental health and can compose grammatically and logically correct arrangements of words to describe intangible things, such as emotions; the fact that I can compose such arrangements and have fingers to type them with; the fact that I own a computer to type such arrangements on. The list goes on and on. I am thankful and blessed for having the greatest gift that God could bestow on any human, and that gift is life.

—Andy Ortiz, senior computer science major

I am thankful for my health, since many I know are ill. I am thankful for a good, stable job, since many people don’t have one. I am thankful for my home, since some have no place to live, and I am thankful my children are young, safe, and with me, and not stationed in a war zone.

—Cindy Lont, professor, Communication

Jake was one of the many homeless cats that are part of the Mason community. When fate brought us together almost a year ago, I was feeding the cats as part of the Mason Cat Coalition. Jake had roamed the Fairfax Campus for eight years and had put down roots near the Physical Education Building. Over a six-month period, he learned to trust me, but many people said he could never adapt to life as a house pet. As the winter months approached, I worried about his survival and decided to take a chance. Jake joined my household last December, and slowly, but surely, he acclimated to domestic life. As he snuggles against me, it’s hard to remember a time when I had to pet him with a stick for fear he would attack me. I am thankful each day that we found each other, and he is no longer cold and hungry.

—Amy Biderman, public relations coordinator, Media Relations

In September, my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer, the same cancer that had taken her mother from us 17 years ago.

My parents live in South Carolina. When I learned of my mother’s diagnosis, I did what military spouses invariably do when faced with such times. I turned to my friends here and around the world who prayed for my mother, sent her cards, and made phone calls offering support.

My mother underwent surgery, and the doctor said to come back in three months, and we would see if the cancer had indeed been completely removed. I am uncertain of the final outcome of my mother’s condition. However, even in this frightening time, my mother is still teaching me lessons. Her courage, grace, and dignity in the face of uncertainty have been a source of encouragement for my father, my siblings, and me. I know that I don’t have forever with my mother. I am blessed, though, to have today, and for that I am especially thankful.

—Joyce Ling, outreach coordinator, Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning

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