|Maria + Jon|
I've know Maria and Jon for ten years. That fact didn't sink in until I started to write this post to go along with the photos I took of them this past Friday.
They were in Orlando so that Maria could attend her younger sister's graduation from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. For the last few years Maria and Jon have been living in the Cayman Islands while Maria attends vet school down there. Before they arrived Jon sent out an email letting everyone he could remember to informally hook up at the Bubbalous on the corner of Alafaya and Challenger. Before Jon knew quite what happened, the email went a little bit viral and a pretty large contingent showed up at the Big Pig to eat BBQ and catch up with everybody's immediate past.
Maria and Jon and I go back to when Jon was hired by SAIC to work on WARSIM in 2001. Jon was still working on his masters at UCF. I mentored Jon a bit on the project and the software technology. It quickly turned out that Jon was a pretty strong intellectual force on his on, and he had people skills well beyond what I'd seen in others his age at the time. Jon didn't need my help, but in the end I sure needed Jon's to help complete a sticky bit of the system.
It was through Jon that I met his wife Maria, and their Great Dane Duke. They were living in an apartment right across from Waterford Lakes at the time, and Duke was still a pup. A big pup, but a pup. They were in the process of looking for their first home.
Jon completed his masters, and they both found a nice house out in the "sticks" of Chuluota. It was during that period that I would drive across town with Max and Babe on the weekends to meet up with Jon, Maria, and Duke at a dog park next to the Little Econ. Labs love the water, and Babe in particular would head down into the water to swim and play. Then they'd get out and chase each other around the park with Duke. Then we'd all get them back on lead and go on a hike into the woods around the park. Great times while it lasted.
Jon moved on to another program, OneSAF, and picked up a lot of additional responsibilities. Maria was working at SAIC in HR. It got to the point where I couldn't think of one without thinking of the other. Unfortunate for all, especially the Labs, it got to the point where I couldn't drive across to the dog park, so that part of the friendship faded a bit.
And then one day, I don't remember when, Maria decided she wanted to change her carrier and become a veterinarian. So she started working part time at a vet local to her, and then she started back to college to pick up pre-veterinarian classes.
At the proper point in her schooling she started to apply to vet schools. All the vet schools. They eventually turned her down. When that happened she started looking outside the US, and found a school that would admit her. After acceptance, Maria and Jon sold everything up in Chuluota and moved down to the Cayman islands. Jon found an engineering job with the local government, and Maria started vet classes. Maria still has one more year before she graduates, at which time she's looking to move back up to the US to extend her veterinary studies.
What's key to Maria's success is her strong work ethic and Jon's equally strong devotion to Maria. Jon is just as hard working and Maria just as devoted. They are wonderfully suited to each other.
Whenever I hear negative comments about Generation Y, I think of Maria and Jon and all in their cohort, with all their powerfully positive traits. And I realize just how excellent they all are, and how incredibly fortunate we are to have them. No generation is ever perfect (just look at us Boomers), but they are certainly proving to be better than we, and that's the way it should be.