When I grow up, I want to be a florist

by Kate McCaffrey
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

June! I LOVE June…for many reasons. It always seems to bring a giant sigh of relief that the world is collectively in a better place. Colors come back into focus as the trees and flowers bloom; the days are longer and for those of us in New England, they also begin to get warmer—finally!

All my life I have loved flowers and had many flower beds everywhere I have lived. This year, after a few years off from gardening, I decided to take on a flower bed in my yard that had become overgrown and full of weeds. I had planted a few day lilies over the course of the last few years, which was a meek attempt at trying to make it look better. However, it was nothing like the hard work and effort I put in over Memorial Day weekend. Finally, the sun was out, it was warm, and I decided I was going to conquer that garden bed. And I DID! It was a difficult, cathartic, and rewarding experience—somewhat like being Dean of Students.

June is the month where we take time on campus to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. We also welcome our newest members of the student body with the annual CORE program. It seems that even as we have barely graduated the last class, we are welcoming the new class. It is always just as exciting as cleaning up a garden bed (you know I’m right). We clean up from the last academic year and clear the ground that holds it all together; and begin to plant again as we prepare to welcome our newest students. It reminds me of a quote by Marcel Proust: “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners that make our souls blossom.”

Working on a college campus is kind of like being a gardener and I am grateful for the opportunities the people here at Wheaton allow us to have together. We learn and grow from the experiences we have with each other. I often remind our staff: we have the luxury and privilege of having a front row seat in the show that is watching our students grow every day. Sometimes it is exciting, hilarious, infuriating and heartbreaking all at the same time (kind of like gardening). And sometimes, we even get to have an influence on that growth along the way.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see your students grow every day in the multiple ways that transformation occurs here, in and outside the classroom. From welcoming the newest members of our community in a few short days, to saying the names of the graduates a few weeks ago at Commencement—it truly is like watching flowers grow and bloom.

So yes, when I grow up, I want to be a florist, for real. That is what I tell people will be my retirement gig. Until then, I look forward to watching your students grow and bloom while helping to create the experience for them here at Wheaton that allows them to do so. I hope you have a wonderful summer and get to spend some quality time with them and experience that growth for yourself! It is truly magical—just like the shift from spring to summer here in Norton!

Be well!
Dean Kate