The Daily Illini

Dad’s everlasting support continues after high school

Portrait+of+Ashley+and+Geethan+Rayan+being+moved+into+LAR++in+August+2017.
Portrait of Ashley and Geethan Rayan being moved into LAR  in August 2017.

Portrait of Ashley and Geethan Rayan being moved into LAR in August 2017.

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Geethan

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Geethan

Portrait of Ashley and Geethan Rayan being moved into LAR in August 2017.

By Ashley Rayan, Contributing Writer

As I am the oldest of three children, my parents were pretty clueless when it was time for me to go to college. My dad came to the United States from India as an international student at North Dakota State University at Fargo in 1984. He was alone, young and naive, but he was also smart, driven and hardworking, ready to provide for his future family.

From my first day of high school, he set my sights on one thing: college. Although he hoped I would choose a STEM major, he encouraged me when I excelled in my English and history classes. He took pride in parent-teacher conferences, sporting events and journalism competitions. 

When it came to the ACT, my dad was my own personal tutor. Through test prep classes, countless Kaplan practice exams and meticulous spreadsheets detailing question materials, he was there for it all. Every time I received my ACT score, he would be by my side. Although each score was good enough for me, he would push me to just score one more point.

The summer after my junior year, my dad and I made a road trip to visit colleges in the Midwest. We researched, planned and finally chose the schools I would apply to. When I received my first letter of acceptance, my dad was the first one to congratulate me. And when I received my first rejection letter he was the first one to comfort me.

In February 2017, we decided to visit two of my favorite schools in New York City. For four days we hung out, went on college visits and explored the city. Although I knew college was a major financial burden, he reminded me that whatever I chose, he would make it work as long as I promised to do my best.

After the trip, I knew that New York wasn’t for me, but Illinois was. I couldn’t bear the thought of being so far away from my family, and I knew the distance would be difficult on them too.

Finally, the day we were looking forward to all along came: move-in day. My family and I packed our minivan full with everything I could possibly need. My dad drove the 3 1/2 hours to Urbana and helped me move everything in.

Although he didn’t help organize or set anything up, he remained the same watchful, patient person he had been for my entire life. He helped carry whatever was too heavy, and when my mom sobbed as she made my bed with my brand new comforter, he laughed and reassured her that I would be seeing them in just a few weeks.

When my siblings called me crying after they had gotten home from dropping me off, they told me my dad hadn’t shed a tear.

But whether or not he shows it, I know he misses me. From the constant, “How are your grades?” texts, to how he doesn’t even mention the numerous Starbucks charges on his card, I know my dad just misses me a little differently than anyone else I know.

Even when my younger siblings eventually took over my role at my local high school, he would beam as he FaceTimed me, telling me about how a teacher had referred to him as ‘Ashley’s dad.’ And every time I call home, my mom loves to chime in, “We all miss you, but no one misses you more than Dad.”

Ashley is a freshman in LAS.

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