JOY spelt out with the "O" as a snow globe with university buildings in a skyline.

A Holiday Message to Students

Dec. 21, 2021

Dear Carolina Students,

Patricia and I chose this Gamecock snow globe for the front of our holiday card this year.  The familiar campus buildings are cute, I think, but more importantly, we chose to highlight the word “Joy.” It’s not unusual for people to wish each other joy around this time of year, but I think we really need some “extra happiness” this winter with all that we’ve been through and with more news to worry about ahead.

Extreme joy, like the birth of a child to a family, is always wonderful. And scoring an “A” on an exam would make you joyful, for sure. But I especially like those moments when joy sneaks up on us when we least expect it. Growing up in the Northeast, I can remember looking up at a gray sky to see early snowflakes starting to fall. Words can’t express that feeling of simple glee. 

I’m looking forward to that feeling throughout our winter break, and I wish the same for you. I hope our Christmas Eve and Day will be spent just as I’ve been imagining them, with our children and grandchildren. Ideally, everyone will help with the cooking and the clean-up. Normally, there’s a holiday-themed movie in store, but this year I might lobby for the new Beatles documentary. My granddaughters will likely nix that, and it’s fine for them to get their way.

As we bring an eventful semester to a close, I want you to know how proud I am of you. Seeing how hard you’ve worked academically, and how you’ve supported one another and our university through tough times, are things that I hope you’ll share with your families. Every day, you show me why the University of South Carolina is worth working for and also why I’m certain that we will do equally well next semester, regardless of the challenges looming.

I hope you’ll take some time to relax and congratulate yourself on all you’ve accomplished these last few months. And I hope that joy will envelop you over the next few weeks. Of course, it’s possible it will be there even though you don’t see it; that would be so unfortunate. All you really have to do is keep your eyes, and heart, open to it. Maybe, once in a while, look up to the sky, and you might see some snowflakes. Whether others around you see what makes you joyful isn’t the point. Feel that simple pleasure and the optimism that really good times lie right ahead for you.

I look forward to being with you again in 2022.

Forever to thee!

Harris Pastides
Interim President