The Nature of Joy

Compassion, generosity, and love for our fellow human beings. This is how I would describe joy in the sense that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke of it. I just recently finished The Book of Joy, which these two coauthored with Douglas Abrams. In the five-day interview, the two holy men speak expansively upon the nature of joy, its obstacles, and how to attain lasting happiness. The book touches upon grief, temporary happiness, anger, envy, and myriad other related issues, but both leaders agree: to have true joy in life, one must simply look beyond himself. Caring for other humans and having true regard for their health and well-being is the key to the joyful disposition that nearly all holy men seem to have. This jubilation and happiness comes from their unconditional love for their fellow human beings, and it is because of their compassion, intimacy with grief, and generosity.

Compassion

From the very start of the book, the word compassion is almost inextricably linked to joy. When asked about what his hopes for the book are, the Dalai Lama says “[w]e need, ultimately, to have a greater concern for others’ well-being. In other words, kindness or compassion, which is lacking now” (30). His Holiness continues to speak about both compassion and joy together, as if they were a package, throughout the book. He blames much of people’s suffering today on the self-centeredness that modern society promotes, and he suggests the remedy to our suffering is an unconditional, unflinching love of our fellow human beings. “[Y]our enemies are still human brothers and sisters, so they also deserve our love, our respect, our affection. That’s unbiased love. You might have to resist your enemies’ actions, but you can love them as brothers and sisters” (78). Archbishop Tutu also spoke expansively upon compassion, saying “compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved” (252). The Archbishop explains that when one is suffering and he focuses on alleviating others’ suffering, suddenly his suffering becomes easier to bear. The Dalai Lama is a man who has been exiled for over sixty years, who has seen countless friends and colleagues taken to Chinese work camps. Archbishop Desmond Tutu lived through apartheid in South Africa, from before the time Nelson Mandela was jailed until modern day. And both advocate for an unconditional love for all of our fellow human beings because they realize hatred is not the way. Hatred and anger have a tendency to hurt the one feeling these emotions the most, whereas love and empathy have the power to transform even the most negative feelings into a deep regard for the other’s soul and mortality.

Grief’s Role

Grief and sadness, though only one chapter in the book, played a large part in the message of the work as a whole. It is out of this grief that our compassion is born, and it is also through grief that we see the depth of our love. I recently tweeted a series of tweets about people lacking empathy having been through grief themselves, and the gist was this: if you have experienced the depth of pain that humans can feel, how could you ever disregard someone else’s suffering, which is invariably more serious. In The Book of Joy, “the Archbishop argued strongly, [sadness] often leads us most directly to empathy and compassion and to recognizing our need for one another” (110) and I would agree. Of all the developments that came from my father’s death, the most positive has been my love and empathy that I feel when other’s experience grief like I did. And all suffering for that matter. I was devastated when my father died, but I got to have him there for my first seventeen years of life; I never had to wonder where my meals were going to come from on the weekend, or had to hunker down in a house without heating in the winter. I have lived a blessed life except for one profound event of grief; it boggles my mind to see so much suffering just brushed aside in political discussion, disregarded by the same people who have dealt with grief in a very real way. In America, all too often it is accepted that suffering is just a natural fact of life when in fact “[a] lot of the problems we are facing are our own creation, like war and violence” (30). If they are made by us, these problems can be fixed by us too. We just need to care for our fellow man with actual compassion.

Generosity

The design of The Book of Joy was one in which the Archbishop’s and Dalai Lama’s commentaries upon joy were interspersed with scientific research upon joy that Douglas Abrams had found and included. In one chapter, he introduces research from neuroscientist Richard Davidson on “four independent brain circuits that influence our lasting well-being” in which he explains “that we had an entire brain circuit… devoted to generosity” (56). Basically, the brain has an entire system dedicated to rewarding a person with happiness when one is generous. This can be the giving of money or gifts, spiritual guidance, or refuge from fear. It is hardwired into our DNA to care for our fellow humans; upon this basis, generosity was established as the eighth and final pillar of joy.* Archbishop Tutu mentions the concept of Ubuntu, or “[a] person is a person through other persons”(270), throughout the book, and generosity is the embodiment of this in action. It is the expression “of our interdependence and our need for one another” (264). There is a reason charity is included in all five of the world’s major religions. It is a universal virtue, one that spans across societies and cultures.

*The first seven are: Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Compassion

 

Interview with John Simko

Just today, I got the pleasure of interviewing John Simko, a close family friend. Through my discussions with my parents, I knew Mr. Simko was an amazing athlete, but as I prepared for the interview I was reminded of how amazing he really was. He attended Sioux Falls Washington from 1953-1957, when it was consistently one of the largest high schools in the US at over 2,000 students. At Washington he was a four sport letterman. He won tennis titles in both singles and doubles all four years of high school, played on a state championship basketball team and an undefeated state championship football team, and was also a state-champion hurdler. From there, he went to Augustana where he was a four-sport athlete again. After college, Simko was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers; he continued to compete at tennis for years as well, winning many tournaments in SD, ND, NE, IA, and MN in singles and doubles. Today, he continues to play tennis and golf and be an all-around great person to be around.

Mr. Simko, you played so many different sports. Which would you say was your favorite and why?

Well, it was the one that was in season. Everybody played everything back then. You didn’t see the specialization like today, where we’re choosing kids’ “one sport” so early.

Describe to me the day in your Senior year that you won two state titles.

I don’t remember much about it except for that I was dead tired. I ran the high and low hurdles (with each race having 1-2 prelims before the final) in the morning, then drove to the tennis courts and competed in singles and doubles that afternoon. It was a good tired though. The other thing I remember about that day is that they scheduled my tennis matches around my track events so I could compete in both.

Who were your favorite coaches?

Well, if I had to say most influential I’d probably have to say Bob Burns. He coached me sophomore and junior year at WHS and another four years at Augustana, and he took me with him to work as a graduate assistant at the University of South Dakota. Other favorites of mine were Wally Diehl, who made it possible for me to compete in both tennis and track on that day my senior year, and Bill Autio, my coach from 6th/7th grade.

What do you feel you got out of sports besides the tangible achievements?

To answer that I’d have to tell you a little about Steve Wilkinson, a guy who I competed against in high school and College. He went to the University of Iowa for tennis and majored in Eastern Religions and Philosophy. He wrote a book called Love Serving Tennis in which he gives three crowns of athletics. They are:

  1. Always respect your opponent
  2. Always play with good sportsmanship
  3. Always give your best effort

So I would say those three crowns are what I’ve learned from sports. Steve really put it into words well.

How was your experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers?

*laughs* It was like the Army. Everyone should do it once. Sometimes sports are fun, and sometimes they are a challenge, and playing with the Steelers was often a challenge. I had a teammate named Big Daddy Lipscomb. He was a big, slow, 6’8″ DT, and he only ever moved fast when he had to tackle somebody. We had a meeting to start the week each Sunday night at 6 PM. Big Daddy Lipscomb would always pull up, singing, at about 6:05, then walk right past the coaches, through all the players, and plop down in a desk in the back making all kinds of noise while he did. This whole time, the coaches would have their hands over their faces. And once Big Daddy sat down, they would take their hands off their faces and continue the meeting like nothing happened. Another time, we were playing Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. The whistle blew for halftime, and we all saw Big Daddy Lipscomb running as fast as he had ever ran for the locker room. We all got there a couple minutes later and the whole locker room stunk. He had ran back to have a cigarette before halftime ended!

Well, thank you very much John. This has been great.

Thank you.

Summer Movie Review

Logan – 7.5/10

At the time that I saw it, Logan was the best superhero movie I had seen since Guardians of the Galaxy. It was refreshing as a fan of X-Men to see Hugh Jackman back in the role of Wolverine, and he put forth possibly his best performance in the final movie. Wolverine is an old man, struggling with a sickness and trying to manage a mentally deteriorating Charles Xavier. In the middle of this chaos, a young girl shows up. She possesses claws that eerily resemble Logan’s, and she brings heavy military scrutiny with her. After being around this girl for a while, it becomes clear to Logan that she isn’t alone. His mission becomes to get her to North Dakota and reunite her with the other children like her. All in all, the storyline was plausible and the fight scenes were sweet. The violence got to be a little bit gratuitous by the end of the movie, which is why I didn’t rate it higher. Even so, it was a pretty good superhero movie.

War for the Planet of the Apes – 7.7/10

Caesar, his ascension as King of the Apes, and the fallout between humans all came to a glorious end in this final chapter. Everyone who saw the second movie knew that this finale to the trilogy was inevitable (especially in the modern day, when even the Pitch Perfect and How to Train Your Dragon franchises are trilogies). All in all, the movie was pretty good. Even though I would rate it as my third favorite of the three movies, Planet of the Apes movies in general always hold a nostalgia for me. The plot was complex, and the ending provided closure, but the movie failed to strike the deep chord with me that the first two did. The brutality and cruelty of humans was a main issue confronted by the movie; Woody Harrelson played his role as a brutal, bloodthirsty Captain well. His own human struggles and complexity adds depth and layers to the plot. All in all, I would definitely recommend this movie; it is a solid, interesting conclusion to the trilogy.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – 8.0/10

Starlord, Gamora, Rocket and company return for the sequel to my favorite superhero movie in recent memory. The plot revolves around Starlord’s father, Ego, who is an immortal with his own planet. The storyline takes the inevitable turn when the Guardians discover that Ego’s intentions are less than pure. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The soundtrack was superb once again, with my personal favorites being The Chain by Fleetwood Mac and Bring it on Home to Me by Sam Cooke. Like the first film, comedy was sprinkled throughout, offering a good amount of comic relief while still allowing the story to build suspense. I will add a caveat to my glowing review; a friend whose opinion I respect on movies said she thought the movie dragged on a little bit. While this isn’t an opinion I share, I can see how one could reach it after seeing the movie. Overall, it was a great movie. However, it wasn’t the best superhero movie I’ve seen this summer. That would be…

Spider-Man: Homecoming – 8.5/10

This movie was Fantastic with a capital F. I am a huge Spider-Man fan, having grown up in the golden age of Tobey Maguire and James Franco with four giant phone books full of Spider-Man comics. I regard each Spider-Man reboot movie with skepticism, especially after two lukewarm Andrew Garfield movies. But let me tell you something: this movie knocked my socks off. First, Tom Holland played Spider-Man as good, if not even slightly better, than Tobey Maguire. His boyish features allowed Spider-Man to be imbued with a lovable innocence, and he nailed his performance. Michael Keaton played the part of a super-villain impeccably. His character was relatable, possessing the kind of righteous anger towards America’s top 1% that many feel in daily life. He gave Spider-Man fans a rendition of The Vulture that lived up to the comic book standard, and his evil sidekick Shocker was just a cherry on top of the sundae. Laura Harrier played the beautiful Liz, damsel in distress and secret crush of Tony Parker. Zendaya offered comic relief as the socially aware teen and so much more, and Tony Revolori played a hilarious version of a High School bully. All in all, this movie was amazing. The length of this review should tell you how much I enjoyed this movie; I recommend it very highly.

Baby Driver – 9.0/10

Baby Driver was both the best and most original movie I have seen yet this summer. The plot centers around a career getaway driver, Baby (played Ansel Elgort), who constantly listens to music. He does this to drown out a persistent ringing in his ears that comes from Tinnitus, a medical condition. The rest of the cast is filled out by big names such as Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Jon Hamm, who all put forth amazing performances. Kevin Spacey’s character is the organizer of this robbery ring, and many jobs are carried out over the course of the movie, with Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm rotating in on different crews. As the jobs get more and more intense, so does Baby’s growing love for Deborah, played by Lily James. Numerous plot points that add depth to Baby’s character are revealed as the movie goes on. He is an orphan, and also the primary caregiver to his deaf, wheelchair-bound legal guardian, and he is very averse to death. The entire movie culminates in a insane climax about seven minutes from the credits, and the falling action after provides a satisfying, complete thought. This movie is hands down my favorite movie this summer. It had suspense, a compelling romance, pathos, originality, a cast full of stars, and a great plot. The only thing keeping it from a higher rating was the gratuitous violence. Like Logan, I was put off by the amount of blood and gore. Even with that, it was a great movie.

Dunkirk – 9.0/10

Baby Driver was my favorite movie of the summer, and then I saw Dunkirk. In a  terrifying two hour film, he tells the story of two soldiers during the evacuation at Dunkirk, France. I have never seen a movie in which I truly felt the terrifying, disjointed manner of war that writers like Tim O’Brien communicate in their writing. The movie was exceptionally tense, as the main character endures countless setbacks in his attempts to escape. Christopher Nolan delivered many emotional blows throughout the film, giving the audience an idea of the atrocity of war. During the course of the film, tragedy occurred over and over again; the characters who survived were the ones who persevered through the terror to prevail. The score by Hans Zimmer provided the tense, fearful atmosphere that was necessary for the setting. After seeing this movie and looking up his filmography, Christopher Nolan may be my self-proclaimed favorite Director. This film is definitely more artistic and deep than Baby Driver, and I liked them for different reasons. With Dunkirk, we were blessed with an Oscar-worthy film in July.

Find Your Boat

In my brother’s apartment, I sit and let myself be hypnotized by his fluid fingers moving along his Les Paul. He makes the strings sing in a style cultivated by years of hard work and a lifetime of listening to Jimi and The Beatles. Once he’s well into the jam session, I look up and see Jack smiling down at his guitar, completely immersed in the music. At Howard, I sit in a dorm room crowded with incoming and current freshmen. The conversation flows from a regional discussion on music taste to the party later that night, from social issues to everyone’s plan for the future. With each plan comes the means by which that person is currently pursuing their overall goal; when each person describes his or her goals, passion dances in the speaker’s eyes. Back in my own home, I listen to my close friend who has dreams of being a published author. He speaks excitedly, going over points twice and three times, revising the style and plot right before my eyes. The story gains depth and nuance with each passing day, and I can slowly start to see the novel’s framework forming. In each of these situations, one constant is present: true ardor. Ardor for music, ardor for career aspirations, ardor for writing. An enthusiasm and love for life.

In a recent talk with my brother, we hashed over the importance of having a passion in life. My view went like this: Life as a whole is a grand distraction from death. Some people will work themselves to death for accomplishments that are largely unimportant when examined closely, and will push away those close to them in the process. Others revert to drug abuse and recidivism, sometimes even suicide, because of their despair with life. In my view, people are saved from both of these fates by their passions. These passions include the love one feels for his family and friends. Passions are also one’s life work, whether that’s writing novels, making music, teaching Kindergarten, or being a voice for social change. To this, my brother told me he agreed. He pointed to the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat, a classic in bedtime lullabies, and told me the song was commonly thought to be an analogy for life. If you need a refresher, the lyrics go like this:

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.

Upon him saying this, I thought for a second, and I’d have to agree with this analogy. The author assumes, however, that you already have your boat. I would contend that the passions that I spoke of earlier are ‘your boat,’ with each passion making up a part of one’s boat.  The entire trip down the stream can be ruined by rowing too hard though. The key word in the second line is ‘gently.’ If one rows down the stream aggressively, the whole third line of the song would change. For many people, the third line’s sole word is often ‘angrily’ instead of ‘merrily’ simply because of overexertion and overwork. If one can find his passions, and concurrently realize the need for balance between work and rest in life, his existence will be rich in contentedness and merriment, and life will be ‘but a dream.’ But first, you must find your boat.

East of Eden & Timshel

For the last three weeks, I have been immersed in John Steinbeck’s masterful East of Eden. Determined after his release of The Grapes of Wrath, he set out to write one more classic novel of epic proportions. It took him twelve years, but by the end he released over six hundred pages of pure gold. East of Eden was released in 1943 and spent two years atop the NYT Bestseller list. The book is often simply described as Steinbeck’s modern-day retelling of the Book of Genesis. This is accurate, but perhaps simultaneously too broad and too narrow. First, the book truly only focuses upon the first four chapters of Genesis, the story of Cain and Abel. More than just a retelling, however, the book is a modern Epic, an offspring of Homer’s great poems. This intricacy allows for deep character development throughout generations. In no other book, besides Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, have I been so invested in so many fictional characters’ lives. Steinbeck’s writing was so beautiful that, when I finished the last line, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. I am straying perhaps too far from the biggest message in the book, but to understand this we must first know the story of Cain and Abel.

Cain and Abel

Central to the plot of the story, and the main lesson, is chapter four of Genesis. One of the world’s most well known stories, it says:

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’[d] While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’

“I don’t know,” he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

10 The Lord said, ‘What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.’

While reading this story, East of Eden‘s main characters ponder its significance. Samuel Hamilton points out that, since Abel died childless, we are all sons of Cain. The telling of the story prompts Adam Trask, the other leading patriarch, to comment on the fairness of God’s judgement; he thinks it wasn’t too fair for God to look upon Abel’s offering with favor, and Cain’s without. Samuel agrees that it may not be fair, but rationalizes God has a right to preference and points out that Cain didn’t have to kill Abel. Lee, a wise Chinese man less hindered by entrenched Western thought, decides to analyze verses 6-7 with elders, wise men in the Lee family whose only fault is a taste for opium. Nearly ten years later, Lee comes back with his discovery and the reason why Timshel is the most important word in the entire story.

Timshel

Lee, like many wise men before him, realized the value of any story that has been around for centuries. By his logic, if it has been around for that long and influenced that many lives, there must be a supreme truth hidden in it.His most important recognition, however, was that the original authors of The Bible did not write in English. His mission became to learn Hebrew and translate the story of Cain and Abel exactly as the author intended. He found that different Bibles had different translations for verses 6-7, with some translating God’s words to Cain as “thou must triumph over sin” and some translating as “thou shalt triumph over sin”. The actual word in Hebrew was Timshel, a word that when directly translated meant neither of these things. He presented his findings to Adam Trask and Samuel Hamilton one night, saying:

“‘Don’t you see?’ he cried. ‘The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?'”

In this passage, Lee minutely alters the translation of the story and the entire meaning changes. God is not demanding that followers triumph over sin, nor is he prophesying that no matter what, followers shall prevail. Instead, we see God’s gift of free will given to Cain. “Thou mayest” means that Cain has a choice to give in to evil, and he also has a choice to fight it, beat it, and be good. The fact that we are all sons and daughters of Cain is no coincidence. We are all imperfect beings, and we all have the daily choice to prevail over evil or give in to it. Timshel.

If I can give you one piece of advice, it would be to read East of Eden as soon as possible. It was truly an amazing book.

My Path to Howard

May 8, 2015 and the ACT

My entire life changed May 8, 2015. On this day, my father had a lower aortic aneurysm and passed away in our Sioux Falls apartment. When I got home at 4:00, my life exploded in front of my eyes. The man who was there for everything, my biggest motivator, the one who believed in me when all others doubted, was gone. The next month was a blur of sorrow, pain, and grief. I finished finals at school early, then spent the ensuing weeks with my family. On June 4, 2015 my life changed again, in a very different way. I had taken the ACT as a freshman and scored a 27; I had planned to take it each year of high school to chart my growth academically. My dad and I had been impatiently waiting for the sophomore year test; we had countless discussions about it, with him always ending the talks by saying, “if you can just get a 32, you’ll be set.” I wanted that 32 more than anything, but his death made the test even more important to me. The day came and went, and five weeks later scores came out. When I checked, I stared in disbelief at the computer: 33. There have been a few times since his death that I have distinctly felt his presence, and looking at that computer I could feel him standing behind me, smiling.

Learning About Howard

After telling my mother and celebrating a little bit, I got to work on searching out merit-based scholarships for high ACT scores. One online resource listed Howard University. This sparked my interest for two reasons. The university was located in Washington D.C., and it was one of the few full ride scholarships offered in the list. My goal in a university was free schooling in a large city, and Howard quickly jumped to the top of my list, tied with Fordham in NYC. I started junior year that fall, and I shuffled my schedule to include Modern Lit because the teacher seemed interesting. In that class, we read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. The book as a whole was a masterful commentary on race, but one twenty page section in the middle clutched my attention:

“Howard was in Washington D.C.–Chocolate City–and thus in proximity to both federal power and black power…. There were the scions of Nigerian aristocrats in their business suits giving dap to bald-headed Qs in purple windbreakers and tan Timbs. There were the high-yellow progeny of AME preachers debating the clerics of Ausar-Set. There were California girls turned Muslim, born anew, in hijab and long skirt…. The result is a people, black people, who embody all physical varieties and whose life stories mirror this physical range.”

How I could have been interested in Howard this long and not known it was 95% black, I do not know. To be quite honest, I had never heard the term HBCU in my life. This discovery excited me beyond words, and inspired a new wave of research. I found that Howard was one of the best HBCUs in the nation, and I searched accounts from white students at HBCUs. Almost every account I read was positive, (with the exception of one blatantly racist one) and this just furthered my resolve. If I got the scholarship I was going for, I knew I would end up at Howard.

Application and Decision Process

Since Howard’s scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, I got my ass in gear on the application. The CommonApp website opened to 2017 grads on August 1, 2016. I had my personal info done, my essay drafted and finalized, and my application sent to Howard by August 7,2016. After this, the process was all about patience. To tide me over, I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ first book, The Beautiful Struggle, as a choice novel in AP Lit. Though my father was 100% Irish and from a very different background, Coates’ focus on his father enthralled me and often brought images back of my own father. Paul Coates’ commitment to knowledge, and his immense love for his family through all circumstances rang true with my own Patriarch’s image. Meanwhile, I was nervously awaiting word back from Howard. Finally, the email that I was hoping for came. I was notified that I had been accepted, and was being offered the HU Founders’ Scholarship. I felt my heart bursting with joy, and could hardly contain my excitement. Five days later, I tweeted out my decision to attend Howard University and emailed all other schools notifying them that I wouldn’t be attending.  I felt a weight lift from my shoulders, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for a week.

ASD

I knew I had made the right decision when I went to Accepted Students Day at Howard. I flew in on a Thursday night, and flew out Sunday morning; it was the most fun I’ve had in 72 hours in my life, and I can’t wait to be back. Pablo was my host, but his friend Tahj showed me around. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pablo is the one who encouraged me to start something like this website that you’re on right now. This single fact helps to illustrate Howard far beyond its partying reputation. Everyone is working towards a goal, and encouraging others around them to do the same. I’ll be completely honest with all of you though; I was a little bit scared. I’m a fluid person, but the anxious thought of not being accepted was in the back of my mind. To my delight, this anxiety was completely unfounded. As I had told myself before, people are just people, and I actually felt more comfortable and at ease at Howard parties than I ever did in a South Dakota party. The people and the atmosphere at Howard just kept reassuring me that I’d made the best decision of my life. Ever since I returned from ASD, I have wanted to be back at Howard.

One last thing that just recently happened made me further believe that my going to Howard was fate. My phone’s battery malfunctioned, and instead of getting it fixed I just switched my SIM card to my dad’s old phone. While I was going through his old pictures, what do I find but this:

saved to his phone in October 2010. My father never said a single word to me about Howard, and yet it is the only university pictured in his camera roll besides his Alma Mater. All told, I have the utmost joy, pride, and confidence in going to Howard, and I cannot wait for the experience to start.