November 23, 2020

With gratitude: Warriors share what they're thankful for during challenging year

This has been one of the most challenging years in recent history. However, despite the challenges — and, in some cases, because of them — many at Wayne State are counting their blessings this Thanksgiving.


Associate Professor of Psychology Marla Green Bartoi says this is a healthy practice.

“There has been a lot of research that shows that if we take the time to think about what we are grateful for, it can improve our mood and happiness, and even our physical well-being.”

Bartoi emphasizes that that doesn’t mean people do not pay attention to negative things, but rather that they can achieve greater balance if they also embrace the positive. For those who wish to strengthen this habit, Bartoi recommends keeping a gratitude journal.

“You’re more likely to notice the positive if you’re planning to write them down later. If you get in the habit of paying attention, you will be more grateful more often,” says Bartoi.

Here is what Warriors throughout the WSU community are thankful for in 2020: 

Ahria Campbell, far right, with family during a past Thanksgiving.

Ahria Campbell, sophomore philosophy major: “Around this time I am most grateful for being able to connect with family members who I don’t get to see that often. When we are all together the laughs and smiles are endless.”


Marquita T. Chamblee, associate provost for diversity and inclusion/chief diversity officer: “As the holiday honoring gratitude approaches, I want to give thanks for being blessed with strong family ties and four generations of loved ones, all of whom are healthy and strong.

I am also fortunate because, although 2020 has been a struggle for us all, I work with really, really good people at Wayne State who care about the university and want to build an inclusive and equitable campus community. I am grateful for being able to make a difference.”

Mary K. Clark said she spends the time she would have been commuting to instead release stress by painting and reconnecting with her creative side.

Mary K. Clark, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences: “I’m grateful to work under the leadership of President Wilson and his cabinet. Our university has benefited tremendously from his reasonable and informed decisions that put the safety of the university community as the priority. I'm grateful to work with an amazing staff in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Although I miss them, the time that I would have spent commuting, I am happy to use that time to release stress by painting and reconnecting with my creative side. Of course, I'm grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends.”


Mary Consiglio, senior student in the Mike Ilitch School of Business: “I am so thankful for the health and safety of my family and friends, this year more than ever. Although this year has been tumultuous, I am very thankful for a time out and a chance to reflect on what matters most to me, that being the relationships I have with others and the opportunities I have been offered throughout my hard work.

"Additionally, I am extremely grateful for endless opportunities to learn and grow, both inside and outside of the classroom at Wayne State. As a senior, I am able to look back happily at the memories I have made — and continue to make — here at WSU.”

Daily walks with her dogs and running three times a week with a neighbor and their dogs is one of the little things Ashley Flintoff is grateful for during these times.

Ashley Flintoff, director of planning and space management in Facilities Planning and Management: “I think for me it’s been the little things: daily walks with my dogs, running three times a week with my neighbor (she’s in my ‘pod’) and two of our dogs, being able to go sailing this summer and escape from the world for a few hours, oh, and lots of good food and wine.”


Kanye Gardner, director of continuous quality improvement in the Office of Assessment, Accreditation and Continuous Quality Improvement: “I am grateful for my life. I have lost a few family and friends and am numb. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for my job, and that we can still make a meaningful impact on students’ lives while working from home. I am grateful for all of the first responders, fire, police, nurses, doctors, and all of their supporting staff. 

I am grateful for the shopping cart attendant who cleans the carts, and for the stock people who unload the trucks. I am truly grateful for my fellow Americans who got out to vote. Most of all, I am thankful for those who do not look like me and who fight for my rights and call out hatred, bigotry and racism. We are all a part of the human race and the only thing that we should be fighting right now is COVID, not each other.”

Cassandra Hancock and her significant other, Jeff Walkerel

Cassandra Hancock, custodian: “I’m thankful to still be reporting for work every day, and for my family. This pandemic has shown me a lot about taking care of myself. I’m looking out for others, as well. It’s not easy, but I have God on my side, so I stay prayed up.

Thanksgiving won’t be like the rest of them. I’m cooking, but not having company. Everybody is cooking their own food this year, but I’m doing everybody’s sweet potato pie; they won’t let me get out of that.”

Stephanie Hawkes learned many lessons from her garden, she said, and it wasa space of peace and renewal this year.

Stephanie Hawkes, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement: “I am thankful for my partner, my family, my health and my garden. I have found that relationships can help keep you grounded and get you through. I’m also thankful for my summer garden! Despite it not getting the start I wanted, it still flourished. Audrey Hepburn once said, ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.’ I’ve found that to be true. I’ve learned so many lessons from my garden and it was really a space of peace and renewal for me this year.”

James Holly Jr. and family.

James Holly Jr., assistant professor of urban STEM education in the College of Education’s Division of Teacher Education: “I'm thankful for a robust support network and living in a community where people prioritized staying connected. Some folks took care of purchasing and delivering groceries for others, some folks gathered for online prayer time, neighborhood game nights took place on Zoom, and we even had an outdoor block ‘back-of-the-closet’ fashion show where each household took a stroll down the middle of the street.

These events did not neutralize the despair brought on by the pandemic and prevalent anti-Black violence, as many of us have lost loved ones and watched some suffer on their way to recovery, but these social interactions made the devastation bearable. I'm thankful that the people in my closest social networks chose to elevate humanity during the overlapping crises of this year, even while we watch our nation deepen its disregard for the lives of Black people.”

Truman Hudson and his daughter, Peyton.

Truman Hudson, lecturer, outreach and marketing specialist, Division of Teacher Education, College of Education; Contract Manager, Family Medicine and Public Health Department, School of Medicine: When thinking of the many blessings that I've been afforded, I am very thankful in knowing that Peyton is learning to use her voice and capital to be a change agent and advocate for her friends and young people who may not have access to the necessary resources and opportunities to succeed.

Elizabeth Kutter and family.

Elizabeth Kutter, director of state relations in the Office of Government and Community Affairs: “In a time when it’s been easiest to sink deeply into anxiety, I’ve allowed myself to instead focus and frame my daily life around gratitude. My family grew in February when we welcomed our second child; my professional life is fulfilling beyond measure; our home is filled with comfort, laughter, and probably more cookies than necessary; and we have the privilege of sharing the warmth of our glow. I choose gratitude every day, my cup is more than filled and my blessings are many — I’m thankful for the opportunity to be thankful.”

Darryl Shreve and daughter, Cyan.

Darryl Shreve, associate director, University Television, Office of Marketing and Communications: “I am grateful for the friendship that I share with my daughter. Makes parenting an honor and a privilege. I love being a dad.”

Krystal Tosch and family couldn’t be happier to have found their dream home, even during a pandemic.

Krystal Tosch, web accessibility coordinator in Marketing and Communications and the Office of Teaching and Learning: “This year, we are most thankful for a new place to call home for our family and to raise our children in. This new chapter in our lives was very unexpected but came at the right time; we couldn’t be happier to have found our dream home, even during a pandemic.”

President Wilson

M. Roy Wilson, president: “The extra time at home has afforded me the opportunity to read broadly and deeply. I've had the pleasure this year of discovering many wonderful new books, including historical novels, biographies, and fiction, some of which were recommended to me by Wayne State students and faculty.”

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