"He loves others, works hard, and overcomes his circumstances no matter how bleak the moment may seem. I have a lot of respect for this young man. I appreciate his intellect and fervor for science and learning and I am in awe of his compassion and his ability to show love and bring joy to each person in his life. He is already an asset in the lives of everyone he knows and he will absolutely be a huge asset on any college campus. I can’t wait to see what his future has in store."
Yesterday, I wrote these words in a letter of recommendation for a young man who I both admire and respect. Ralph is a senior in high school and going through the process of applying to some of the best colleges in the country. With an impeccable academic record and a slew of extracurricular activities, Ralphie is sure to gain entrance into a great college, but what makes me so proud is that Ralph's accomplishments are in spite of the pain and sadness that the last year has brought. A little over a year ago, Ralph came home to find his mother and step-father arguing. That night, his step-father and step-brother packed up their belongings and moved out of the house. Over the last year and a half Ralph has had to get used to a brand new way of life. He has learned to live without a father, without a brother, and with the emotion of returning to a quite lonely house when he was so used to returning to a full and bustling home. Through these changes, Ralphie has continued to peruse life and relationships to the fullest. He found reasons to smile, reasons to be grateful and he never looked back.
It is young men like Ralph who encourage me and give me hope for others around the world. Hope that pain and abandonment can be overcome with love, joy and determination. Hope that with the right support and guidance, any youth can overcome what life or their parents have thrown at them. Hope that God has a bigger plan than what we can see in the moment.