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I was a shy 9-year-old rural boy from the farm country. Rarely did we have the opportunity to visit the “big city.” Whenever we did, it was special.

On one sunny Saturday in May, before the spring planting began, my family and I went to visit my aunt and uncle who had just moved to the North Side of Buffalo.

On that afternoon, my uncle took me for a brief walk around their neighborhood. He pointed to a set of large gray stone buildings on a low hill in the distance. One of the large buildings had a clock tower stately erected at the top. Uncle Fred, pointing to the skyline of impressive buildings, said, “See that hillside over there with all those buildings? That is the University of Buffalo on Main Street. The building with the clock is called Hayes Hall.”

I looked with utter awe, and gazed at the impressive sight. My only remark was “Really … A university?!” I knew that a university was something very special. Further, I knew that I probably would never see that sight again. Instinctively, it went through my mind that a university is for really smart kids and rich folks. I just knew that I did not fit into either one of those two categories.

Time moved on, and I so wanted to go to that university. During the ensuing years, dreams began to become reality. I married, and we both became educators and the parents of a son and a daughter.

Exactly 31 years from that time I first saw the university from a distance – again on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon in May – and within the shadow of Hayes Hall with the clock tower in the background, I received the Ph.D. degree. And 28 years after that event, again on a Saturday afternoon in May, our daughter was awarded the M.D. degree with honors from the same University at Buffalo. To be sure, dreams, hopes, reality are the story of possibility.

You know, in life so many things are possible even when you think they are impossible to achieve. Hopes and dreams are the steps on the ladder of possibility. Accomplishment can happen by fanning the tiny inner sparks of hope into flames of achievement.

The truth of the matter is, possibilities are always within reach. You may not be able to develop new skills by osmosis; but every day contains within that day countless opportunities, all dictated by the choices we make, obstacles notwithstanding.

You know, obstacles and problems are opportunities in work clothes. There is hope to every challenge. One cannot let oneself think that it is impossible just because it has never happened. One needs to have a passion for the moments of possibility. I have found that when a great moment knocks, it is often no louder than a whisper. So I have found, keep your eyes focused on your passion and follow the whispers of your heart; there are many folks in one’s life who contribute generously to those whispers.

To be sure, there are scores of individuals who contribute, perhaps even unknowingly, to the accomplishments of others. This is so true in my life. We are so reminded, “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”

My thanks to so many generous individuals, including my Uncle Fred, who took me for a walk one sunny Saturday afternoon in May.