Gary was asked by the WACAC Communications Committee to share his thoughts, experiences, and advice on working from home during these uncertain times. Gary is the Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA and serves on the WACAC Executive Board as a NACAC Assembly Delegate.
I’ll start by first saying that I hope everyone in WACAC country reading this is safe and healthy. I’m writing this on my laptop while sitting on my patio with the sun shining, and it reminds me how fortunate I am to have all of those things. Things that I once took for granted, like my health, a beautiful space, a safe home, a great job, my wife and son close by, plenty of food, and a solid internet connection (the silent MVP in the Clark household). What a privilege to have each of them as so many in the world are struggling with far less.
Like many of you reading this, my days (and nights) have been dominated with how we respond to the myriad of impacts everyone is feeling due to COVID-19. I have been truly overwhelmed by the level to which everyone has rallied to find new and innovative ways to engage our students. These efforts usually would have taken years to implement, yet we’ve all adjusted in just a few short/long weeks! Whether it’s how to help students complete their senior year/last year of community college or look forward to applying in the future, we’re all working to answer their many questions about how all of this will play out. We’ve done a lot, we’ve had some missteps, but we should all be proud of the fortitude and commitment we’ve experienced and witnessed.
In the midst of all of this has been our transition to “everything” at home. Work, school, meals, family, social, gym (as if I went anyway…who am I kidding?)…you name it. It’s all at home. While work/life balance seems perpetually uneven, we are without a doubt in the midst of a new-normal, although hopefully a temporary one. I never realized the tiny breaks-in-the-action I had when I was commuting to work down the 405. Breaks between meetings…visiting colleagues throughout the office…walking to lunch…going out to dinner with my wife…playing basketball with my son. These things are all now happening inside my house (even basketball games in our living room). I am grateful for all of these things, but is it ok for me to say that the adjustment is tough? Is it ok to feel like I live on zoom? Is it ok to feel like I don’t have that quiet space between different parts of my day? Is it ok to feel drained from it all? I think it is. I love my family and my job and feel unbelievably blessed and fortunate to have them all, but we have been thrown into what is a new paradigm for me and many of you reading this. And I think it’s ok for us to stumble a bit as the earth beneath us shifts.
So what’s my advice in all of this? Wow…who am I to give advice? But…give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Find moments to create those much-needed breaks. Enjoy virtual happy hours with friends and family. Get outside (in a socially distanced kind-of-way). Check on your friends that you haven’t heard from in a while. If you are able, think about a local CBO/food pantry/organization to support, and/or pick up take-out from a local restaurant. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself in the middle of all of this. To be at our best for students, friends, and family, we have to take time to recharge in whatever way works for us (and is currently available).
People are good at staying connected in our work. Whether it’s a WACAC conference, a Share, Learn and Connect program, a college fair, visits, etc. we look forward to seeing friends and colleagues to talk shop, but really it is also to share our lives and catch up. Sounds like a little thing, but it’s an important part of what makes our profession so special. Continue to do that and I can’t wait to see you all in-person when we’re through this.
UCLA Undergraduate Admission