Growing up, my father didn’t get home from work until nearly 10:30 pm. He worked full-time at Allstate Insurance while also working part time as a realtor. There were days I didn’t see my father because he had been working all day. He told me to be grateful for what I had and where I was in life. I didn’t fully understand him, until now.
My father was unable to complete his education. He had planned to become an engineer, but his dad fell ill and the responsibility for the family fell entirely upon him. My father had to pay for his sister’s wedding and his younger brother’s education. In order to do this, he quit college and started working full-time.
I look at myself now and see how dramatically different my life is compared to his. I have everything I could dream of and more. My father is willing to work hard so that I can, today, pursue my education at the best of institutions. In fact, since preschool, I have studied in private institutions and grown up in a world that is in diametric opposition, in terms of the opportunities and expectations placed upon me, to the world that my father grew up in. He has tried to prevent me from even getting a glimpse of the hardships he endured when he gave up his dreams to serve his family. I am humbled by and grateful for the opportunities my dad’s efforts have allowed me to pursue. I know that my father did not have many of the same opportunities. As the timeless and enduring quote goes, “with great power, comes great responsibility”- I know that having the access and opportunity to seek and find knowledge comes with expectations- to serve the community which has so selflessly flung all its needs and desires to serve the needs and desires of my generation. I have had the opportunity to attend both engineering and medical school. The knowledge I have gained by attending both these schools has not only empowered me, but has also reminded me of what I owe to my community and my family- the responsibility to give back.
Whenever my father sees me with a calculus or physics book, a smile comes across his face. He begins chanting the trigonometric functions and formulas he remembers. But that smile often fades as he remembers the past. My father has never talked openly about the hardships he endured while he was young, but his eyes convey it all. There was this silence that followed that chanting and smile. I knew that my father was thinking back to his past and the educational endeavors he never had the opportunity to pursue. Despite this, my father is able to provide more than enough for our family on many levels, financial and emotional.
However, despite my dad’s success, there is still a part of him that wishes he could finish his education. I have grown so much from my father’s experiences. Although he did not have the opportunity to finish his education and pursue the engineering career he had dreamt of, his sacrifices came to yield. Family has always been incredibly important to him, and the efforts and sacrifices he has made on his family’s behalf have added immeasurable value to his life.
As I tread through my final months of medical school I’ve come to realize more and more just how fortunate I am. Every day is a reminder of the advantage and opportunities I was granted due to my father’s sacrifices. I am now the same age that my father was when he left school, and I am fully aware of the advantages I have over him. But with these advantages come additional responsibilities. I will forever remember his efforts and sacrifices and do my best to honor them. It is this passion that is the driving force of my life and my scholastic pursuits.
Opportunity by Susan Frasier