Resiliency is a trait that anyone can develop and use in tough times throughout life.

In this issue of Optics & Photonics News, we highlight 24 winners of 2020 OSA Awards; additional awardees will be honored later in the year. I would like to congratulate these accomplished individuals for the creativity and extended dedication to their fields that the awards recognize.

At the same time, thousands of those newly entering our field—our student members—will have to forego the recognition and celebrations that usually accompany college graduations each June. This year is different, but the ceremonial aspect of noting these achievements is more important than ever.

I do think, however, that the current situation offers new ways to celebrate that move the focus from solely the graduates themselves, to include those who helped make their success possible. At the time of my college graduation, it was, for me, just something to get to and get through before moving on to the bigger things that awaited. I did not appreciate then how important the milestone was to those who helped in my achievement—my parents, teachers, friends and mentors.

While this year’s graduations may not have the pomp and circumstance of previous years, the once inconceivable situation we now find ourselves in does provide an opportunity to more seriously consider this important milestone. For this year’s graduates, I congratulate you and those who helped you along the way. Take a moment to thank them—a relative, partner, spouse, friend, teacher or mentor; or perhaps someone who inspired you at a very early age. This unexpected gesture is something that you can give to mark the occasion together with those who helped make it possible.

These interactions individually may seem small, but they often lead to serendipitous conversations and connections that help build a community and a social and professional network. Together they build our communal resiliency, something that we don’t pay much attention to except in times of crisis.

Adapting to a changed environment or any traumatic event challenges us and tests our resiliency—our capacity to cope with and adjust to change. Challenges that may seem overwhelming, when met head-on, can bring important personal growth. Resiliency is a trait that anyone can develop and use in tough times throughout life. And one of the key strategies is to make your relationships and your community a priority, and a mutual source of social support.

At The Optical Society, our organizational resiliency, the ability of OSA and its staff to weather the storm, speaks to the society’s financial, operational and cultural assets. I am happy to report that OSA’s strong financial reserves and personal commitment of staff and members have enabled it to focus on keeping our community strong by meeting challenges, closing ranks and adapting to change as never before.

As we meet challenges today, our resiliency as individuals, communities, and organizations builds, helping us to emerge stronger. I wish you well as you face your own set of challenges—as well as a lifetime of good things small and large to come.

Stephen D. Fantone,
OSA President