This weekend, my amazing father Neill McKee is being feted by his alma mater, Florida State University as a Grad Made Good. My dad went to FSU for his masters in his early 40s, dragging his family south for a year where he studied like crazy and spent hours locked away in his bedroom, typing away on our brand new Tandy computer, managing to get all of his coursework done and his thesis written in one year, because that’s the length of sabbatical he had. For my mother it was one of the most productive years of her life artistically, and my brother and I had a great time too – making friends quickly and navigating our way through the strange world of the American South.
Little did we know it was the beginning of a much larger adventure for our family. With his Masters of Science from FSU’s School of Communication in hand, my father was able to give new direction to his career, and apply for jobs overseas, first taking a job with Unicef in Bangladesh, and then moving on to Unicef’s regional office in Kenya. His final posting with Unicef was in Uganda, after which he left to work for Johns Hopkins University, spending three years in Baltimore before heading off for a three-year stint in Moscow, from which my parents recently returned.
It’s a long way to go from Tallahassee – and an even longer distance if you look at where my father came from to start with: the tiny little town of Elmira, Ontario, where no one was expected to move farther away than Toronto. And yet there will be this weekend, watching the Seminoles Game from the President’s box, sitting on a float in the homecoming parade, this man who carries his home with him wherever he goes.
And what is he going to do with his laurels, now that he has them? Certainly not rest. He’s celebrating the start of his 64th year with a new job at the Academy for Educational Development in Washington, DC, an organization he’s hoping to contribute to for many years to come.
Congratulations, Dad! I am so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished.