The beginning of the new quarter at work reminded me how fortunate I am to work with an exceptional bunch of student assistants. I’d say this is a shout-out to them, but they probably don’t even use that term anymore.
This group of young women and men help me remember that college students are exactly that—young women and men, not kids. They’re eager, excited, smart, talented, creative, responsible. They take ownership of their work, propose interesting ideas, and care about the results. They’re interested in a variety of topics—from video production to friendship to the inner workings of a watch—and have any number of projects going on all the time. They have lofty and fulfilling goals, like working at Pixar and developing their own brand of backpacks. And they are each utterly different from each other yet collaborate well as a team.
In trying to encapsulate what I appreciate about them, the best word I’ve found is alive-ness. In the work they do for me and the pieces of their lives they choose to share, there is an energy, an excitement that may be unique to their particular stage of life. It’s lovely to be around.
I wonder whether they are aware of their own enthusiasm. My mom once brought me a branch that had fallen off a plum tree just as the buds were beginning to open. I put it in a vase with water and set it on the kitchen table and it astonished me. The urgency of those buds to open was palpable—they were literally bursting with it. The new flowers strained toward life with a real force.
This may be the stage these students are in—an opening to the world. I am impressed that they are doing it with such joy, passion, and grace and am grateful for the opportunity to be present to it.