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Dear Son, Don't Settle - EVER


-- 10 Months and 17 Days Old --

Dear Son,

It's been awhile. Actually, from looking at my last note to you, it's been 4 months - a third of a year has since gone by! Where has the time gone?! Since then, you've gone from stumbling through your mobility to now zooming around our apartment on your hands and knees, ripping everything down, banging as many items as you could, and exploring all that you've probably been looking at for a while.

We know we're in trouble when you start walking.

Plus, you're now getting pretty heavy. Like, the type of heavy that places a serious clock on how long your mother and I can hold you.

But, as always, it's been fun.

Of course, the reason I haven't been able to punch the keys with notes to you ( or really, at all - sorry DP readers) is because of the adjustment to my new job as an Associate Athletic Director, and really, working to finish my course load on a second Masters degree.

I've hinted at my pursuit of a second Masters Degree here and there, and truly, since beginning my pursuit of it wayyyyyyy back in the summer of 2016, I haven't discussed my reasons for doing so - or really, anything regarding it at all.

But today, I finished. It's all over. I sit here punching the keys on May 10th, 2019, and I'm now the carrier of TWO Masters degrees in fields that are super important to me, and areas that I integrate daily in my career.

But why, right? Why the return to the classroom for yet, ANOTHER, degree? And, why am I breaking the news in a letter to you?

Well, it came down to one easy self-convicting thought - during my time at NYU, I had the opportunity to pursuit the degree under tuition remission. For an individual like me who grew up poor, raised by two parents who never surpassed a high school diploma, became a 1st generation student, and then tackled graduate school - again, education was never a formality. This education thing has always felt like a blessing - sometimes I still can't believe what I've had the ability to experience.

Truth be told, for kids like me - tracked with my similar identifiers, education, and the relatively easy access to it, is extremely limited. When it comes to education, the privilege of knowledge and the higher education experience is often taken for granted.  There are many who would love for the opportunity to attend college, and quite frankly, I felt partly compelled to pursuit this degree - especially considering the fact that NYU was picking up the cost, making my access that much easier.

And of course - I'm a total nerd for knowledge, dialogue, and for learning. As if you couldn't tell by this blog.

So yeah, it's as simple as that. However, why am I sharing it with you?

While the course work was difficult and wore on me, it really became tough when you arrived. The late night readings, the papers, the research, the pushing of myself to think of education policy and the inequality that lies in education in grounded ways - all of it - became so much harder when you're doing it without sleep, or with a baby in your arms. Or at times, the worry (and often moments of complete lack of self care) of keeping everyone around me happy.

Side note: I do want to pause and give much props to all the single parents out there. Especially those going to school. You have my unwavering and unconditional respect.

But while it became super difficult, it allowed for me to ponder and to restructure my drive for this degree. Yes, I dedicated this degree, from the beginning, to all of the 1st generation students, like myself, who have walked a path of education inequity for years - and still persisted. But, it became clear that also with this degree, I wanted you to one day look at this and see the importance of education and knowledge. And to respect it - especially the power and privilege it carries.

Not everyone in the world can read. Not every has access to knowledge. And not everyone has the ability to have their voice heard on matters that can reshape and reflect a world already tilted in inequality.

I didn't get two degrees because I NEEDED it. I pursued this one because it's important to my story and my journey to this point. Because, while we live in a world that is always in a struggle to move toward equity and inclusion, the power of access, opportunity, and generational capital is so vital. So, so, so vital. And while the struggle of inequality - no matter the life sector - will be a fight through my lifetime, and possibly through yours, I want you to always be reminded of those who have opened doors for you, and the importance to continue running through those very doors. It's absolutely imperative.

Privilege can turn on blinders to that. And let's be honest, you will be tremendously privileged in this area - but I never want you to take education or knowledge for granted.

So one day, when you're able to read this and understand this - I don't want you to be intimidated by my road, or to be forced into being impressed by what I have been able to accomplish, or to feel pressure to play scoreboard and surpass what I've done.

No. Not at all.

Ace, I want you to never settle. Ever.

No matter what society may dictate; no matter what others around you may offer; regardless of how easy of a choice is presented - please, be the best version of yourself possible. Continue to learn. Continue to pursuit knowledge. Fulfill your curiosity. Explore your passions. Conduct your own research. Or, lead and fight for the causes of your heart. Whatever. But please - PLEASE - don't EVER become complacent in your ambitions.

Don't be someone who talks about laws, or policy, or engineering, or culture - again, whatever your heart's desire. Go out and do them. Go out and live them. Go out and accomplish them.

After all, You're an Ace. That's why your mother and I gave you that name.

So yeah, congrats to me on this day. A second Masters degree - I am proud of what I accomplished. But really, all I keep thinking about is all of the awesome things this bumbling child in our apartment will one day accomplish.

I can't wait to experience it.

Love, Dad.

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