Many of the milestones we achieve in our lives are ones we set for ourselves like getting your driver’s license, graduating high school, getting other degrees, and getting married.
Many milestones are ones that happen without planning and work, like losing a tooth and the age milestones of turning 18, 21, 30, 50 and beyond.
And yet more milestones are set by others that we benefit from, like a child’s wedding, and being recognized professionally.
This week my oldest daughter will marry.
It’s been a week of joy getting ready for the big event. Many little details being taken care of and a lot of time together, those moments that are so precious to a parent when hundreds of miles separate parent and child.
I use the term ‘child’ to represent a hierarchy. The word ‘child’ in no way represents the young women my daughters have grown into. The continually amaze me with their emotional maturity, their ability to handle challenging situation, and their respect for the families they are merging into. The same can be said for my sons-in-law (including the one-to-be).
When my daughter marries on Saturday, she will have achieved a milestone in her life and at the same time I will have achieved one in mine. Both my children will legally have families of their own. Their sights will be set on growing and nurturing their families and not set on expectations of an older generation. And I will encourage that with all my being. The milestone achieve by my daughter is one she set. The milestone I achieved will be one that I benefit from—an expansion of family, a sense of security that I am no longer the one responsible for children, although they will tell you that they have been self-reliant for many years. And they have. But as a parent, you still feel that sense of responsibility in their well-being.
I had another milestone in my life this month that was set in place by others as a consequence of my own actions. It was unexpected.
As of the 25th of February 2023, I had never heard of the Eta Kappa Nu society (written as HKN). That changed after I gave my second workshop of the day to a group of biomedical engineering students at the University of Rochester. I was an invited speaker as a part of a student conference run by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (pronounced as “Eye-triple-E” and abbreviated as IEEE). The IEEE representative at the conference, after my talk, asked me if I would like to be considered for membership in HKN.
As I learned, HKN was founded 99 years ago as an honor society for electrical engineering. In 2010, it merged and became a unit within IEEE, now known as IEEE-HKN, and serves as the honor society of IEEE. Membership is life-long, and focuses on scholarship, character and attitude. They have expanded to include students and professionals in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science and other fields of interest to IEEE.
Leadership to those who want to learn
Those of you who know my educational background know that I am a mechanical engineer. It is not my engineering work that gave me this opportunity. It is my work with Alpha UMi, spreading leadership skills to those who want to learn. I’ve given talks for many years now at the Women in Engineering regional conferences, as well as working with students.
It all happened rather quickly. My contacts at the IEEE-Women in Engineering organization were HKN members, so I was able to garner the requisite number of recommendation letters needed for the application.
On April 16th, at 8:15am, I was inducted into IEEE-HKN at the IEEE Region 3 conference in Orlando. It was a 30-minute ceremony, that required making a pledge, signing a book, receiving a pin and certificate, lots of pictures, and a 2 hour drive each way.
I was given the option of being inducted by Zoom at a later date. I weighed that against attending in person. It certainly would have been easier on me to just schedule a zoom call. But how many recognitions like this do you get in life? I was all in!
With two days to go to my daughter’s big day, I find myself very much caught up in the joy and excitement. I’m grateful that as a thirty-something, she handling the chaos on her own, and I just get to show up and run errands. My craft work was completed at home, and happily, met her expectations.
What ever your milestones, self-attained or at the efforts of others, I hope you are able to show up and enjoy it.
And if I have a word of wisdom to share, it’s to be present and enjoy every moment. It’s over in a blink. That is my personal goal through this wedding weekend.