Show appreciation for your dad this weekend

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Meghan Lyons

Meghan Lyons and her father celebrate on the field of Memorial Stadium after the historic win against Wisconsin during the Homecoming game Oct. 19. Lyons encourages students to show appreciation for their dads this Dads Weekend.

By Meghan Lyons, Contributing Writer

Next weekend, thousands of students will have their dads or parental figures come to campus for Dads Weekend. For some, Dads Weekend is a time where fathers get the opportunity to relive their college days. For others, it can be quality time spent with friends and parents. And for some, including myself, it is a time to be thankful. Without helpful advice and encouragement from my dad, I would not be here writing this article today. 

At the beginning of my high school experience, college did not seem like an option for me. I did not have confidence I would get into a good school. I obtained decent grades, but I felt like I was not a good enough student and lacked motivation. My dad helped to change my perspective. 

When my dad was growing up, my grandparents did not encourage him to go to college, and they did not teach him the value of higher education. His only ticket into college was a football scholarship at a small Catholic school in Joliet, Illinois, called the University of St. Francis. Juggling football, academics and social life all became increasingly difficult for my dad. As a result, he dropped out of college.

My dad met my mother, and they were engaged four months after meeting. After becoming engaged, my dad went back to college to finish his degree to help support my older siblings. At the age of 29, my dad finally graduated from college with his degree.

My dad always stressed the importance of attending college to me and my siblings. From a young age, we were required to give away portions of money received from relatives and friends for him to store away in our savings. This always bugged me when I was younger, and even at times made me resent him. As soon as each of us turned sixteen, we were required to get jobs and start saving. As time passed on, I became frustrated. I began asking myself things like, “Is college really worth it if I have to work all the time?” and “Why do I have to work now when I have my entire life to work?” Nothing seemed to make sense to me. None of it did until that day in December when I opened up my admission decision to see my computer light up in orange. I remember the big white words crystal clear: “Congrats, Meghan! You’re an Illini!”

As a sophomore currently halfway done with my third semester at the University, I now understand why my dad pushed me for all those years. Katie, my older sister, graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and is currently working as a full-time nurse in the city. My brother  John just graduated this year from the University with a degree in Economics. My other brother, Michael, is finishing his last year of college at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, as well as his final year of being a decathlete. Without my father’s unwavering commitment and passion for receiving a higher education, none of us would be where we are today.

Although we have extremely similar personalities and tend to clash a lot, I view Dads Weekend as an opportunity to give back to him. Without my dad, I would not be able to witness one of the biggest upsets in college football history against Wisconsin on Oct. 19, when James McCourt kicked the winning field goal against the clock. And maybe, just maybe, we will be able to witness the upcoming win against Rutgers this weekend.  

Meghan is a sophomore in LAS. 

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