To my community, with gratitude

When a chapter of life comes to an end, it is important to reflect on how far you have come.

This is exactly where I find myself, as I both celebrate six years back in the organization that I loved so much, and as I prepare to pass the baton of leadership to someone who will open a new chapter for The Bridge of Southern New Mexico.

I have had the privilege of serving the community through The Bridge for a total of nine years, as what I call my “first term of service” was in 2010-2013. My second tour started when I returned from Washington DC on July 1, 2016 and will end this month or next.

In many ways, I’ve always considered myself a ‘poster’ for The Bridge’s work…that’s probably what fueled my passion and drive. Almost everything we stood for was part of my own unlikely story, from education to employment and a career beyond my wildest imagination.

Learning the value of hard work and “soft” skills at a young age, being mentored by kind-hearted people who were willing to talk about my life and help me develop my skills and experience, and even the My mother’s insistence on going to college in the first place were all vital contributors to this journey.

And that is still what our young people and young people need today. They need a supportive community that believes in them and helps them find their way despite potential obstacles. There is nothing out of reach when surrounded by friends and family, caring neighbors, kind-hearted teachers, a religious community to help ground them, and employers who see young talent and are willing to help show them the ropes.

We are blessed to have MANY of these people here. We have leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and, frankly, don’t want to accept it. They and we have an innate desire to roll up our sleeves and work side by side to partner, pilot and prove that our innovations will work for students, families and the community as a whole.

I have been the very happy recipient of excellent relationships with so many people here who are tireless in their pursuit of excellence for our community. From members of The Bridge’s first board of directors to those who serve today (and who let me do this job in the first place) to the hundreds of partners in our Workforce Talent Collaborative, Early College High Schools, Career and Technical Education leaders, dual credit champions, and partners in more innovations than I can fully recount here, I carry a deep sense of gratitude to each of you.

I was your student and you taught me so much. Thank you for your willingness to devote your hearts to the work we do together. I know you know this, but it’s important! And not just for Doña Ana County, but for the entire state. What started here caught fire across the state, so you can expect to see big things coming for New Mexico.

I have also been incredibly blessed with the support of my family, who prayed for me when things got tough or the way forward was unclear. They may not have always understood exactly what I’m doing, but they’ve always been very understanding of the time and commitment it took to do it to the best of my ability.

There are great things to come in the chapters yet to be written for our community and our county. Our young people and our families will be the ones who will write these chapters. Thanks to the work that came before, they will have a great story to build on.

Soli Deo glory.

Tracey Bryan is President and CEO of Bridge of Southern New Mexico.

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