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Ohio Today

My dad's trip back to school

By Jamie Heberling

For our family, Ohio University's Dads Weekend does more than facilitate an annual father-daughter bonding experience. It has been, for the past four years, an active display of my dad's support for my college education.

Dad attended Ohio University briefly in the late '70s, but the emphasis placed on obtaining a college education wasn't as significant then as it is today. He dropped out a college after just a year in exchange for the biweekly gratification of a paycheck from Youngstown, Ohio's booming manufacturing industry. And while he's not the neurosurgeon he envisioned he'd one day be, after a handful of career changes, he became a successful computer programmer.

Watch a video of Jamie, her sister and dad sharing special thoughts on their Dads Weekend experience.

Quicktime: Lo-Res | Hi-Res

Looking back, my father views his decision to drop out of college as one of his few regrets in life. However, when I decided to attend Ohio University in 1999, and my sister Jessica followed in 2001, he couldn't have been happier.

Each February, Dads Weekend gives him the opportunity to see my sister and me fulfilling his dreams for us. Our weekends together have become a celebration of his monetary and emotional support for our educations, and they are some of the best times I've ever had at Ohio University.

My father celebrates Dads Weekend festivities with the same gusto he would have given his college studies more than 20 years ago. Taking off work the Friday of Dads Weekend, he arrives early to take full advantage of our time together. He even packs the van the night before and carpools here with other Ohio University dads.

From sledding down the Convocation Center parking ramps to catching a Bobcat basketball game and ordering late-night D.P. Dough calzones, the weekend provides plenty of lasting memories. We've even done a few things we've vowed never to tell Mom.

Since Jessica began her freshman year, our Dads Weekend activities have incorporated more family traditions. When we were little, we made homemade chicken noodle soup every Super Bowl Sunday. Now Dad brings that tradition to Athens and my shoebox-sized kitchen. Jessica and I help out with the cooking -- but mainly with the eating. And Dad leaves us with plenty of leftovers to fill the fridge.

On Sunday, tired from a busy weekend, he leaves his "big girls" in Athens with a greater appreciation for some of life's most important gifts: family, education and celebration.

Jamie Heberling, BSJ '03, is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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