I am fully back to work after a few weeks of balancing my McMaster obligations with a successful ‘COVID move’ from my house of 10 years! As I shared with some of my inner circle, sussing through one’s belongings at the turnover of a new year has an extremely cathartic impact. I am fully in control of my belongings and have a heightened sense of personal organization! I also feel like I have a ton of free time again – I have been sorting, packing and discarding for the last few months and it feels really strange not to be walking around with a packing tape dispenser in my hands! My first ‘relaxed’ weekend in many weeks involved puzzles, outdoor walks (sunshine in Guelph on Saturday for a change!) and trying to break the holiday eating and drinking habits of the last few weeks (low success on that last item).
I also spent some of my time on the weekend thinking ahead to the semester and the exciting activities in store. I am very much looking forward to the McMaster IT Forum this year, which will be held virtually in February from the 16 to the 19th. We will be using our sessions there as a catalyst for celebrating success and embracing the continued momentum of the McMaster IT Strategic Plan. We are entering into the third year and there are still many new initiatives to develop and move forward, while we continue to achieve our many in play projects and activities. We sent out a save the date last week and are looking forward to an invigorating forum this year, virtually delivered across 4 days. Thanks in advance for your interest and to those of you who will help to develop and deliver content as part of the week.
An activity we will be wrapping up at the IT Forum, is our McMaster Women in Technology Changemaker series. I just completed an interview with our January Changemaker – Hanna Haponenko, a PhD student at McMaster. Stay tuned for the upcoming launch of her video interview – she has a fabulous story to tell about connecting her education to a societal need. I also want to remind you to check out the amazing Janelle Hinds, our McMaster Changemaker in December. She is a dynamo and will knock your socks off with her energy – both as a student and now an enterprising alumnus of McMaster. She has been a fantastic innovator and entrepreneur. I also can’t wait to reveal the final February Changemaker! No spoilers, however it really will provide us with a powerful end to this year long endeavour! In addition, we will hold a panel discussion with some of our amazing Changemakers at the IT Forum. If you have not yet had a chance to meet and learn about the McMaster Women in Tech Changemakers, please take some time to read or watch their video stories for inspiration and to gain an appreciation for how these inspiring women have embraced and harnessed technology to deliver real outcomes in their areas of expertise.
One of my other areas of focus this semester will be the Okanagan Mental Health and Well Being Task Force that has just launched this month. I am honoured to have been invited to play a role on the oversight committee for this important wellness initiative and to be able to support and contribute to our mental health initiatives on campus alongside many other dedicated members of the organization. This is just the last in an array of mental health and wellness initiatives that have fallen under the international Okanagan Charter that McMaster signed in 2017, including our Professor Hippo mental health education series which is available for any of us to complete. I went through the program last semester and it provides concrete understanding and skills and direction on how to support colleagues, students and even family members who may be stressed or in distress and need our support. Worth taking the time!
I wish you all a fantastic mid-January week. I am looking forward to more snow and I think Mother Nature is going to deliver!