When I started writing this, it was going to be about a Culmination Ceremony where daughter Alicia, aka my little girl, was receiving a certificate from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion here in Los Angeles. She was one of 12 students receiving certificate's this evening; it was sort of a recognition that they were well along the way to completing a Masters Degree in Jewish Communal Service. It was a delightful event and we got a chance to meet many of Alicia's friends and professors. Most noteworthy was the camaraderie among the students and the passion with which they described their work and goals.
But the whole evening got me thinking about where the sense of service to community in these young people came from. And, in a personal sense, it is not just Alicia but her brother Seth as well. She will complete her HUC degree next May as well as a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration/ Student Affairs from USC. Seth, who has an undergraduate film degree will be completing requirements for his teaching credential in December on his way to becoming a high school drama/English teacher.
Although I spent over 40 years in public higher education as a professor and administrator, I never pushed the kids to "follow in dad's footsteps." Quite frankly, I sort of hoped they would find careers that were more financially rewarding than those found in the education or public service sectors. Oh, we did impress the importance of community service on them. In high school, they were members of an organization where the kids volunteered at a local hospital. And I got them both involved in an annual holiday dinner and toy giveaway for homeless families in Compton where I worked with the school district's Homeless Education Program for many years.
But Alicia went off and got her Bachelor's degree in technical theatre and Seth, as I mentioned above, has a film degree. Yet somewhere along the way their plans changed; Alicia's after her return from a year in Israel, Seth's about midway through his college career when he began working part time at his old high school.
And the more I thought about all of this after returning home tonight, the prouder I felt. Blogging friend Eric commented after my August 1 post that referenced my older son Bill that "the apple falls not far from the tree." Perhaps he is right.
While tonight's ceremony was called a "culmination," it is more of a "near the beginning" for Alicia who will carry her talents and passion to serving the needs of Jewish college students. And when Seth "completes" the requirements for his credential, it will mark the "launching point" of what is likely to be a long and successful teaching career. I guess my reflections tonight are those of parents who just may have done a few things right.