If by chance you are of the misfortune to have never seen even a single episode of Fred Rogers’ 895 episode run on PBS, rest assured that it’s not yet too late to understand the spirt of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and to carry that forward in your own life. If you’re really looking to brush up, November 2019 will bring a re-telling of Rogers’ impact with the release of A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks. Rogers sparked in his audiences the compassion, integrity, and authenticity that lend to happy, healthy, and loving communities. Despite the show holding the target audience of children, the themes and takeaways are universally beneficial for all age groups, and it can even be argued that adults are in ways in more dire need of a re-education on the subject matter.
Pursuing higher education is for many a commitment to oneself, one’s family, and one’s community with the goal of becoming a more prepared, aware, and dedicated individual. This commitment, although noble in itself can be limiting at times. In the midst of pushing oneself to the edges of capacity with demanding projects, challenging concepts, and maxed out schedules, it is easy to forget the cement of the educational process Rogers so passionately preached over his long-standing career; love. Love is the base of the greatest human attributes from kindness, patience, and generosity. In the day to day hustle of it all, the education process can feel like a duty, an obligation, at times it can even feel like a never-ending sentence of books, deadlines, and assignments. It is so important to hold on to the truth that the captivating characters and guests in Rogers’ neighborhood came to know in their hearts. Mantras like “You are special”, “I like you just the way you are”, and “I am proud of you” are aimed at creating a sense of security and comfort in the viewers and it’s those words that are so needed as we climb the mountain of higher education.
Let Howard Community College be the neighborhood that Rogers’ envisioned for America. Treat your peers, your professors, and staff with the compassion that we all deserve. It’s easy to forget that sometimes the greatest learning comes through our interactions outside of the classroom. When patience arrives in the long line at the cafeteria to teach you to take a moment to breath and smile before blurting out your order. Or when faith arrives at the end of an exhausting tutoring session to remind you that you have what it takes to master the content. We are all capable of embodying these principles and if we can transform our campus with love, then it will only create a ripple effect to the communities beyond our campus lines.
Fred Rogers possessed the simple but powerful knowledge that love is the driving force to so much in this world of ours. In a time when our news is saturated with stories of violence, corruption, and competition, it’s up to the individuals to reclaim what really matters. I urge you to incorporate Fred’s mantras into your own self talk and just see how that makes you feel. It starts with love for yourself and quickly radiates to all those you cross paths with. When you have love for yourself, it is so much more natural to love your neighbor.