This I Believe

Michael - Buffalo, New York
Entered on May 19, 2006

I believe in role models. I believe that role models shape a person’s life. They do this through their words, deeds, and advice. Role models come in different forms; they are the people we admire from afar or a second grade teacher who took the time to help us understand. For me, my parents are my role models.

I feel I have always have had a good relationship with my parents. I never thought them embracing or otherwise a nuisance. They gave me my space to succeed, to fall when necessary, and gave me the tools to get up again.

My mother has always been an advocate for those she loved. She sought change in my school district for special education. With no formal post-secondary education, she stood up to Psychologists, school administrators and teachers to give her point of view. She won the respect of the people she worked with, not because of her scholarly contributions, but for her passion, and real life experience. It was in the face of challenge that she stood up, with nothing to back her, but her beliefs, and she won. I understood at a young age through her model; that belief and conviction are paramount to success.

My father was the politically minded one of my parents. I was always his most captive audience when he spoke of world issues. On Sunday mornings my father would sit and read the morning paper. He met an agitating story some routine moves. The first was to shout an expletive–a self made one at that–then he would throw down he glasses and dispense his opinion upon anyone in ear shot. As I got older, I remember those memories of his Sunday morning outbursts with delight. At the time they seemed comical, but now I understand them as my father standing up for what he believed in an articulate and fervent way. He too is a passionate person, who tells anyone who would listen what’s on his mind. Like my mother he did not go to college, but still remains one of the smartest people I know. While he may not be able to wax on eloquently about Keats, Oscar Wilde or the like, he is able to convey to others his ideas and ideals eloquently. And in his life time, he has been able to get the ear of a Vice President, Senator, a First-Lady turned Senator, as well as local politicians.

Now that I am older, finished with my undergraduate and graduate studies, and embarking on my own life journeys, I keep thinking back to the lessons of my parents. I think about the informal conversations in the kitchen, hallways and bedrooms of my parents’ house. At the time they seemed inane and innocuous, but now act as a how-to guide for life. In my roll as a student conduct director at a university, I often hear the words of my mother escaping from my lips as I give advice to students. I feel her empathy when I want to make right what I see as wrong. I feel the presence of my father within me when I stand up for what I believe in no matter how big the battle or how great the cost. I know now, more than ever, that I believe in the worth of my parents as my role models; indeed they have been the most consistent ones of all.