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Raul’s Report: Don’t come to school!

Raul Cardenas, Ph.D.
CU Denver Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Keep your sickness at home and get well

thought that headline might grab your attention. The request here is that you don’t come to school if you’re sick. Stay home. Get well. Keep your germs to yourself and don’t infect others.

Experts are calling this one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Even this month, they’ve still been encouraging people who haven’t gotten a flu shot to go get one.

Like a lot of families, mine tends to suffer through at least a few illnesses each winter. And, like a lot of students and working professionals, I try to power through it and come to the office even when I know I shouldn’t. Not only is it dangerous for me, it means everyone around me could end up being sick, too.

If you’ve read this column before, you know I have a son who’s attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Like many college students, he doesn’t do a very good job of taking care of himself. He pushes himself all day, stays up late and doesn’t eat well—sound familiar? So, no surprise when he came down sick.

It wasn’t the flu, but he was miserable. I wanted to remind him that he’d brought it on himself but I bit my tongue.

That’s when he surprised me by doing the right thing! Rather than staying on campus and infecting his classmates, he came home and slept the entire weekend. He took time out and gave himself the opportunity to recover. I’m pretty sure he also wanted to be babied just a little bit but, whatever the reason, resting made all the difference.

As hard as it was to admit, I had to give him credit. He’d been so responsible that when I caught a nasty cold myself, I actually used him as my example.

For the first time I can remember, I made the choice to stay home. No one got infected because of me and I’m certain I recovered much faster than if I’d kept trying to come into work.

I think we all tend to look at the short-term. We have a schedule to keep and deadlines to hit. It’s hard to look at the big picture and make the decision to just take a little time off and catch up on things later.

There’s nothing new here that you haven’t heard before and I apologize if I seem to be nagging. It’s like that old Robert Fulghum book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We all learned how to keep ourselves and others healthy a long time ago. We just need to do it.

So, next time you’re sick and feeling miserable, I encourage you to follow my son’s example and don’t come to school. You and everyone else will be glad you didn’t.

Raul Cardenas, PhD, is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. He’s devoted to student success, enjoys sharing a good laugh, loves commencement and leads a staff committed to providing the best student experience possible. Raul invites students to schedule a conversation with him. Email Bonnie.Hixson@ucdenver.edu for an appointment.

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