I’m the baby in the family. I have one first cousin on my mom’s side of the family and two on my dad’s side- all of them college grads.
Steven was born in the Philippines and raised in Belgium. After high school, he took two years to travel around the world and work with various nonprofits. He volunteered in the Philippines, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. The fact that he speaks English, Spanish, Belgian, German, and Italian probably helped. He went back to school and now works in Brussels, managing the operations of a new nonprofit that works with disaster victims.
Chiara and Ygnacio (Iggy) were born and raised in Rome. They grew up speaking Tagalog, English, and Italian, and later learned Latin and French. Chiara attended Stanford on a choir scholarship, got her teaching credentials, and moved back to Rome to teach English to low income children. She also joined a band and records music. The family’s a bit confused by the fact that she attended Stanford to be a teacher, but she’s making enough money to live and making music she loves.
Iggy was accepted to Stanford when he applied, but opted for Columbia instead, because the professor he wanted to study under transferred there. By the time he was a sophomore in high school, he knew he wanted to be an art major at Columbia. He also became editor of the school newspaper and art magazine. By the time he graduated, he had made enough connections to warrant a full scholarship to study for his master’s degree in art. Now he’s at the University of Pennsylvania getting his doctorate in art philosophy. He’s already got museums calling, asking him to be a curator or critic when he’s done with school.
These past few weeks that my uncle and aunt have been in town, we’ve had dinner with them a few times a week. And every night, I’ve been reminded of my cousins and their careers. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It’s a mix of admiration, healthy ambition, and- as reluctant as I am to admit it- a bit of jealousy.
But one thing I am sure of: it motivates me. And that’s what’s going to count.