I Think I Can

Welcome back to a new semester at Maria College!

As the new year and the new semester get underway, a word keeps repeating itself in my mind— “persistence.”

I’m actually reminded of that word almost every time I drive down New Scotland Avenue towards campus around 10am during the week. No matter the weather, the temperature, the time of year, I see a lean gentleman in athletic clothes running either from Slingerlands towards Albany or the reverse.

His stride and physique indicate that this man is a seasoned runner, probably a marathon runner. And he is always, always there running. I have seen him on the coldest of days as well as the hottest, the sunniest as well as the rainiest. Nothing seems to deter him from his daily run which is certainly the definition of “persistence.”

This living definition is reinforced by Merriam-Webster.com which provides the following: “persistence (noun): the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.”

As I write this blog on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, I am also reminded of Dr. King’s persistence in the pursuit of civil rights. Dr. King was arrested thirty times during his years of civil disobedience, yet he was never deterred in his pursuit of justice.

Many other notable public figures over the years have embodied persistence from Abraham Lincoln to Oprah Winfrey. You can read about a few such figures here. 

As a teacher, I also hear the word “persistence” in relation to students. The word refers to a student continuing to an educational goal from academic year to academic year which can be a challenging task at times; however, I am continually amazed at the persistence of so many of our students here at Maria!

What can contribute to persistence? I am certainly no expert—I need pushes and prodding too often to keep me moving forward, but I do try. However, the experts offer some of the following tips to help each of us persist:

  1. Set realistic goals.
  2. Manage time effectively.
  3. Be organized.
  4. Do the necessary work.
  5. Take care of your health.

And I will add one more to this list—seek out support when you need to. None of us persists in a vacuum; we need each other to move forward.

Here at Maria College, we have so many terrific resources to support students and help them to persist. Check out these resources here.

I will leave you with the words from the little train we all read about as children, “I think I can–I think I can—I think I can.” And that little train certainly did!

Until next time . . .



  • Comment:

    Anne’s blog is a wonderful personification of the word “persistence.” Is “personification” the right word, my English professor colleague?! The math professor in me tried, should I say “persisted,” in trying to write my thoughts in this reply to your blog!

    I, too have seen the man who persists at running, each and every day.
    And I have also seen our Maria students persist. In fact, that may be a word that describes our student body as a whole. A popular word for this, over the last few years, was “grit.”

    No matter what we call it, it is a trait that gives our students a “leg up,” to again try to describe the way our students continually pursue their goals, past their hardships and challenges.

    Here is a “keep it up!” to our students — you have the drive and determination, just like that runner, and the man whose life in the pursuit of justice and we celebrate this week, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Submitted by Barbara Ruslander on

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