Congrats, Zoe, 2012

2012-06-08 13.45.19

Dear Zoe,

The past four years have gone by faster for me than any other before them. It’s impossible to believe your time in college is over. Yet Friday I watched you graduate. You did it. Congrats. I’m so proud of you.

I know it wasn’t always easy. MIT wasn’t the make-friends/party-time place college can be. It was often a grind. I vividly remember video chatting with you late one Saturday night, you looking wide-eyed with papers strewn all around you, studying for something or other at a time when many of your college-in-Boston peers would have been headed toward passed-out drunk. It was one of those, “Wait, this is what we want for our kids?” moments; it’s not the feeling most people are imagining when they say, “Wow!” after you tell them your daughter is at MIT. It’s true I urged you to apply for transfer to UCSD at holiday break your sophomore year, just in case you wanted to bail on MIT the following fall. You considered it, but said MIT was something you wanted to complete. It was important to me that you knew there was no penalty from me for wanting to do something different. I didn’t want you to fight it out at MIT for anyone but yourself. But I was EVEN MORE proud when you decided to soldier on. You have heart and drive all your own. It was fun to watch it come to life from inside. I hope you take some pleasure from it as well.

Once it was clear you were there til the end there wasn’t any risk of teasing, “Why don’t you drop out now and come work for your old man? We’ll build music software together! Spelunking the genome and curing cancer sounds hard at best.” “Dad, Computer Science is soooooo 1995,” was probably the best comeback ever. Right you are. What you’re doing in Biology/Genetics is mind-blowing. I bet. If I understood it. Congrats on being in the eye of the storm. Go get ’em. Lead the charge of the next wave.

Now you’ve graduated with a 5.0 GPA from MIT, and are matriculating to Stanford’s Genetics PhD program in the fall with both a Stanford Graduate Fellowship AND a National Science Foundation grant. What can I say? Not a damn thing. You’ve already gone further than I ever could have dreamed. Hell, I was proud of you from day ONE of your life, before eating, talking, reading, or mathematics. What do you call this feeling? What’s the other side of pride? Not sure what you call *that* feeling but there’s piles of love and respect and excitement for having you back on the West Coast. Lucinda asked me today, “When Zoe’s at Stanford can we go visit her once a month?” I dunno if we can, but I’d sure like to.

Congrats, baby. You did it. Take a breath. Please, be happy. Know you’ve already succeeded. Be ok with whatever comes next. Don’t be afraid of changing course. Enjoy life. Manage away the stress, school or otherwise. You’ve no one to impress. Focus your energy on hard work you enjoy. The world will benefit if you do and you will too.

I love you.

Drive safe. See you in 10 days.

papa

[Friends, family, countrymen, citizens of earth — if you have memories or kind words for Zoe please leave them in the comments!]