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Photo above: A double rainbow over Setauket, NY on the day before Earth Day (credit to Mariana Ruis)

Welcome back students!

What a year we have had so far!  We hope that you have had time to rest, and to reflect and renew your goals and commitment to your partnership with SoMAS and SBU in developing your skills, and exciting and rewarding career options.  This has, so far, been a year to remember, or, is it, one to forget?  As you know, there are yet still important events for us to live through and participate in for the rest of 2020.  This reminds me to express how important it is for all of us to exercise our civic duty and vote.  This is one of your ways to contribute to and participate in the well-being of everyone in our country.  In any case, we have been tested and challenged this year, mostly by the natural world, on which we depend for our very existence.  While this has indeed been challenging, I am heartened by the fact that all in SoMAS share a deep passion for understanding and protecting the natural world.  And, because of our impacts, it really needs and demands our help!  While there are many paths to financial and career success and satisfaction, I hope you know that there is great honor in supporting the natural world, and the services that it provides to humanity.

We are here to help you succeed, and are working hard to ensure that you have access to great experiences here in SoMAS.  Please get to know the faculty and staff, and try to get involved with what they and your fellow students are doing.  Our students are great, they are the future leaders of the world.  So, get to know as many of them as you can, make contacts, and lifelong friends.  While you may be challenged, and it will often feel very hard, be sure to know that you can do it, and that you are never alone.  Just reach out if/when you need help.  There is honor and human dignity in the question – “Can you help me, please?”  And, of course, there is great honor in providing help to others around you.  Doing that is a good experience and contributes to the quality of our community.  When you have finished your degree, and, you will, and you have met many challenges, you will know that you are capable of doing great things and solving problems that once seemed too big.  You will have a degree in self-confidence that will take you far.

So, please, wear your mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands often, give to others, work hard, and, most of all, be kind to all the people in your life.  They will give back to you.  And, remember, we are here to help you.  If you are not getting the help you need, remember, the buck stops here in my office (145 Endeavour).  Stop in and see me!  Best of “luck”!

Paul Shepson
Dean, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

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