Dad.

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Back in high school, one of our assignments was to work on our college application essays during class time to ensure that they were perfected before sending them off to our respective lists of schools. One of the topics of choice revolved around describing an influential person in your life. For me, it was an absolute no brainer who I would be writing my essay about.

My dad, no doubt, has had the most influence on my life and has shaped me into the person that I am today. I watched him work hard ever single day since the day I was born to provide for our family and give me the life he believed we deserved. I watched him graduate with Master’s degrees, take on major roles and responsibilities throughout the years at work while receiving major recognitions for his ethics and respect for his job and his community. When I was doing my fieldwork in college, I got to watch first-hand the respect his kids and colleagues had for him, as well as the respect he had for them in return.

He has pushed me hard to fly past my limits and never settle for less than I deserve. He got me through the good and bad times, always being my #1 fan, whether it was driving 8 hours to national competitions, or promising that break-ups would get better. His determination and drive for happiness and success is something that I admire, and something that I work hard for every single day.

In honor of Father’s Day, below is the college application essay I wrote in 2010 [holy cow, I’m old] about the most influential person I have in my life – my dad.

Ever since I was a little girl, standing on my tippy toes, barely able to take a drink from the drinking fountain, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in a school. Walking down the hallways at the tender age of five, hand in hand with my father, the principal, and sitting in his big chair at the desk in his office, I knew this was where I was meant to be. It felt like home.

Growing up, I always looked up to my dad for everything. He was the ideal father, always there for love and support whenever I needed him. I give my dad all the credit for shaping my life, and helping me in making the most important decision I will ever have to make.

When he was in high school, my dad thought he knew what he wanted to do. Originally, he thought Economics would lead him to doing big business on Wall Street, which would eventually lead him to a happy life with lots of money and success. Although he spent years earning his degree and finding the successful job he supposedly always wanted, in the back of his mind he knew that this wasn’t what he loved to do, that he was meant to be a teacher. If you were to ask anyone who knows my father, they would all tell you the same thing; he was good with kids. After a few years of questioning his decisions and traveling all around the U.S., unhappy with his job, he decided enough was enough. He decided that he was going to fulfill that dream, to go back to school for a degree in Business and Marketing Education. When I was just one year old, he got his first job at what would eventually be my high school, Niagara Catholic. To this day, he will say that the six years he spent working at Niagara Catholic were the best years of his life. I spent the first six years of my life at that school, whether it was going to visit him for lunch or sitting side by side with him at those chilly October afternoon football games cheering on the boys. Because of his dedication and love for his job, he worked his way up from being a Business teacher to becoming Dean of Students, and then to other jobs at both the high school and middle school in Medina. This eventually led to the job he has now as principal of Eden Junior/Senior High School in Eden, New York. He just recently has gone back to school to get his doctorate degree to eventually have the option of becoming superintendent of schools.

Eight years later, walking back into that same high school as a fourteen-year-old freshman, I was flooded with all the memories of that same little girl going into work with her Daddy. Being around a school system all my life made me feel so comfortable throughout my four years of high school, and helped me in making my decision about what to do with my future. While others seemed to struggle with deciding on what to do with their upcoming lives, I had already had my mind made up. I have always my whole life loved working with kids, because I was already around them. Because of this, I have made the decision to go to college for Speech-Language Pathology, because it would allow me to have one-on-one time with each individual child and to work in a school system. The thought of going to school for this major does nothing but put a huge smile on my face.

Growing up watching my dad love his job and love working with kids made me realize I could find the same happiness in a job, just as he did. The moments of sitting at his desk, seeing his door always open, and watching almost every student walk by just to give a friendly wave and smile, followed by a “Hey, Mr. Graff” still to this day brings a smile to my face. Looking back now, his “big chair” doesn’t seem that big to me anymore, because I feel I can conquer it and one day sit in it too, just like Daddy did.