February is a great month for celebrations and observances! Some of us celebrate that January is over and that we can reconsider the lofty New Year’s resolutions we made a month ago. For those who love this time of year, February is officially the third month of winter with lots of snow (at least in the mountains), when skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing are at their best. For those who don’t love winter, you can celebrate that the days are getting longer, the evenings lighter, and before we know it, it will be spring! 

Of course, Valentine’s Day comes every February 14—and we can celebrate every February 15 that Valentine’s Day is over for another year. We don’t have to limit our reasons to celebrate to just the14th when we can also look forward to February being

  • Black History Month: Celebrate the accomplishments of black Americans, past and present.A wall painted with colorful hands clasping.
  • American Heart Month: Join with the American Heart Association to learn about keeping your heart healthy. Many local medical centers have activities and health fairs, including walks and "Go Red for Women," a movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.
  • National Children's Dental Health Month: Use this month to discuss good oral care habits.
  • Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Discuss this important topic with your sons and daughters—or really any teen in your life.
  • Friendship Month: A great excuse to reach out to friends.
  • National Youth Leadership Month: Encourage young leaders to get involved in their communities.
  • Library Lovers Month: If you don't have a library card, head to your local library and get one.
  • And so much more!

This month in the McKay School, we are celebrating a new program to help us meet our goal to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., ethnicity, first-generation college attendees). Just recently, we found out that a peer-to-peer mentor program for diverse MSE undergraduate majors proposed by the MSE has been approved and granted special one-time funding by the university. 

Recent estimates indicate that approximately 150 students in MSE programs represent diverse populations. The plan includes having one paid MSE undergraduate mentor representing diverse populations to work with 15 students (also from diverse populations) to help with both social and academic support. Building a sense of community with these students will be done by creating t-shirts to represent them and holding regular monthly meeting with refreshments and information they feel they need to be successful as college students in our programs. The funding will also be used to provide PRAXIS preparation materials and/or training for 120 students as needed so they will be prepared to take those required exams. We are excited to move forward on all of these and other initiatives for the benefit of our students and programs.

My favorite aunt used to say that a person should never pass by an opportunity to celebrate. Keep looking for those opportunities and have a great month!

Lynnette