Dr. Kim Padulo has served as Program Coordinator for the Integrated Educational Studies (IES) program and Director of Undergraduate Education. She has taught undergraduate courses in both Leadership Studies (LEAD) and IES since 2002. Here, Dr. Padulo shares some reflections as she concludes her time at Chapman and begins a new chapter in her life with a well-deserved retirement.

“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”
— Paulo Coelho

Kim PaduloIt is never easy to say goodbye, and the transition of leaving Chapman behind is made all the more difficult by the social distancing required of us during this COVID-19 pandemic. My first thought when I heard we would be moving to remote instruction and learning was, “What about the seniors?” This should have been a semester full of close friends, last hurrahs, warm embraces, satisfaction with a job well done, and pride as you cross the stage and receive that diploma.  And then, with sudden, frightful force, it was all gone. The feeling was empty, unsettling, bizarre.

As someone who is retiring this semester, I feel like I am a senior for the last time. I have lived in an academic milieu since I was 6 years old. All along, there were transitions, marked with joy and pride. There was sixth grade promotion from elementary school, 8th grade graduation to high school, receipt of my high school diploma, college commencement as the first in my family to receive a college degree, receiving my master’s degree, and finally, being hooded as a newly minted “doctor.” In my career in higher education, I got to plan and participate in the ceremonies and recognition of those rites of passage for students at four different universities.

This Spring will be my last commencement celebration… and it has to be virtual. The notes and cards will be delivered via the computer. The faces that fill my last semester as a higher educator are in small boxes on the Zoom screen. I am on the couch instead of at my desk or in front of my class. The goodbyes are without the hugs. This is definitely not the way I planned it.

But, like all of you who are graduating this year, I must be brave enough to say goodbye. Chapman has been my professional home for the better part of 20 years. I will miss my colleagues, the peerless IES faculty, and most of all the students who have allowed me to walk a small part of their journey with them.

With the courage to say goodbye comes the next hello that life provides. All of us seniors need to embrace the hello. We are saying goodbye in strange times, to be sure, but I hope you all are turning your faces to the hello of the future.

Our world needs you, to shape it, to love it, to educate people young and old.

Godspeed, Class of 2020!