I was unbelievably lucky to have met Professor Aveni, or "Mr. A," in my first year at Colgate -- then, simply as a student of his. I was furthermore lucky enough to be able to continue to spend the rest of my formative years at Colgate working with him -- this time as one of his teaching assistants. I worked together with him to help conduct his class, and revise material we felt could better benefit the students.
Mr. A is a true proponent, and a living success story, of the liberal arts. I'll never forget him telling me, a mere freshman at the time, that it was not only perfectly okay, but fully encouraged, to explore and pursue more than one interest, even if it seemed as if those interests lacked anything in common. At the time, I figured my goal was to try a variety of things, find one that I enjoyed, and head down that path. I knew exploration was important, but I had never really heard someone articulate the possibilities of combining interests and disciplines in such a way that Professor Aveni did.
It was exactly that which gave me the confidence to pursue not only my initial path in computer science, but to venture out and take Japanese language and culture classes as well. This, as cliche as it may sound, truly changed my life, as it resulted in my spending a semester abroad in Japan, and my eventual choice to move and work here post-graduation, doing something that allows me to combine that which I love.
Furthermore, Mr. A's understanding of and devotion toward how important it is to respect other cultures and other people -- making an earnest effort to try and see things from their point of view -- is something that has stuck with me since the first class I had with him. Taking a look at present day, and considering the hallmark issues that are at the forefront, most relevant in our modern society, it is this sensitivity, respect, understanding, and consideration toward others, regardless of one's background, etc., which Professor Aveni so well embodied, and that which we need to work on now more than ever.
In ways that I couldn't imagine at the time, taking Mr. A's advice to act on my curiosities and branch out, putting myself in foreign lands and experiencing cultures vastly different than my own, I was able to not only learn much more about myself, but gain a much greater admiration for how wise Mr. A truly is, and for his efforts toward pushing students to be better, more curious, and more considerate versions of themselves. These better versions of ourselves we owe in large part to your teachings and your guidance, Professor Aveni, and for that, I'm ever grateful.
Thank you so much for everything you've given us, and I wish you all the best in this next stage of your life! You certainly deserve a break more so than any of us, though, knowing you, I can rest assured knowing that no matter where you are or where you go, you'll continue to brighten, enrich, and be an inspiration for the lives of all those around you. You're the best!