Thursday, December 4, 2014

And Now I Can Say The Work Has Gone Full Circle #LRA14 No Longer Lost

In 2007, when I left Kentucky and traveled to my homeland of Syracuse, New York, I quickly met a young Sudanese man named Marino Mauro. He had finished a four year degree in biology at LeMoyne College and became part of the Syracuse Lost Boy Cow Project. We quickly became friends and I enjoyed working with him as he moved into a Physician Assistant program at University Hospital, a year after I entered a doctorate program. He and I bonded over hard work, Sudanese culture, relocation to the United States, and putting our ram horns forward as we charged. I finished the doctoral program in 2012 and he finished his degree soon after. We tipped many glasses of beer to our success.

Then, a few weeks ago, I saw his photograph at a Syracuse Reading and Language Arts event and I thought, "Why is Marino at my alma mater?"  I learned he was dating a doctoral student in literacy named Stella Rwanda. She came from Kenya and entered the RLAC family after I left.

Now, this year at RLAC, I had the great fortune of meeting Marino's girlfriend at the Mariott where the conference is occurring. It's been seven years and everything has gone full circle. I said to Stella, "But why isn't Marino with you? It would be so great to hang out with him again."

The better news is that Stella hopes to do her dissertation on students with limited and interrupted formal education, in the same capacity that I did. I am looking forward to our future conversations and sharing with her what I learned from my doctoral work and the four years that have followed.

Not only is this year's facility stellar for a conference (it's actually above 70 degrees!), but I've also learned that the Syracuse family has grown more robust. I couldn't be happier. I remain incredibly proud of the mentorship and guidance of Syracuse University faculty. It is wonderful to have Stella in the mix and I can't wait to see Marino once again. The world is enormous, but sometimes it grows special in the small ways it unites like-minded individuals.

Thumbs up for day #1 in Marcos Island.

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