For all of you out there who enjoyed the post about Zachary and the amazing education he received at the Albuquerque Academy, here’s a little follow-up. As I said in the previous post, he studied hard at the University of Texas and got himself a PhD in Aerospace Engineering last December (that’s how they say it in Quay County – “got himself” – except that they just say that he’s a rocket scientist now. . .), and then he decided it might be well worth it to walk across the stage in May and get hooded by the heads of his department.
It was well worth it – his little sister Johanna and his girlfriend Leslie and three of his cousins, all great traveling companions, went with me to Austin, where we rented a house off sixth street and proceeded to celebrate Zach’s Big Achievement. We waited a very long time in a hot auditorium to see his hooding, but how often does a parent get to do something like that? I was out-of-this-world proud and excited, and there were tears, and there were silent prayers of thanksgiving for all those times when I considered leaving Albuquerque and then changed my mind.
I know I credited the Academy with so much of his education, but I also have to give the city itself lots of credit. All those afternoons in junior high when he was walking around Nob Hill, drinking coffee and eating salsa at Baca’s with 12 of his best friends, all those amazing bright minds, all that time visiting with Jay at Birdland, all those hikes up Elena Gallegos Canyon to take pictures in their prom clothes – the city gave him a sense of independence and confidence that he might not have gotten elsewhere. He learned to navigate in a bigger world, and with a diverse population. It served him very well.
There are lots of folks in Quay County who view Albuquerque as a hotbed of crime and fear, but I can’t go along with that. Albuquerque was a great city for Zachary, and now it’s treating Johanna with great kindness while she works on her degree to UNM. I love Albuquerque.
Last month I loaded up my Ford Freestlye with Zach’s sports equipment and kitchen utensils and the longhorns his cousins brought to the hooding as a gift, and we moved him to Salt Lake City, where he’ll use his education to develop wind and wave energy for a small company with lots of promise and few employees. I think he’ll help them change the world. And I think being a boy from New Mexico helped him get there. I’m still out-of-this-world proud.