2009 NC State University Family of the Year Essay
By Mary Pat Bulfin
My Family: A Howling Chorus
A cry rises, clear, strong, crisp. It carries across the vast snowy silence of the tundra’s chilly expanse. The sound reverberates against the icy floor, hanging, suspended like a lingering mist. The voice begins to trail off and soften, when suddenly other voices, of similar pitch, penetrate the stillness- a wolf chorus with one deep, spirited, infallible note. The “call of the wild?” No. It’s something much deeper. These voices may be strong, but they are not mere primordial cries-they are the universal sound of family, my “Wolfpack” family.
My family has always been my life-force. They’re my friends, my teachers, my inspiration, and my model for living out my faith. Like wolves in a pack, my family works together, each bringing a different voice, a different set of skills, that ultimately helps build each other up. While the “Wolfpack” is NC State’s mascot, I believe it is more than that-it is a mentality, a lifestyle, that fosters individual strength through teamwork, through family. I recognize family at State because my own family has shown me what it looks like.
“Life is a team sport…and I’m always on your team-we all are.” Mom’s words always penetrate me, even though she has reassured me of this since I was a little girl. Her phrase reflects the NC State fighting spirit: we’re a team, we’re for each other’s success, be it on the football field or in the day-to-day challenges of college life. Mom and Dad always offer encouragement and advice, giving the gift of time freely, regardless of their responsibilities. Whether it’s Dad helping me solve a computer glitch with his skills as an IBM Computer Programmer and reassuring me with “the big picture” of a situation, or Mom’s e-mails and phone calls, telling me they’re always there and always praying, my family provides encouragement that refuels my desire to face, and embrace, the challenges ahead. They ground me when I feel overwhelmed, reminding me of the privilege of attending University. I am so grateful for the tremendous sacrifices my parents made to allow my brother and I to attend NC State, knowing that they have gradually saved money since before we were born. Although my parents did not go to school in the area, they love this school. What I admire about my parents’ support of and devotion to NC State is their reasoning for loving the school: they do not love it for hollow reasons, athletic affiliations, or because it was “theirs”; they love it because of their full confidence in the way State is preparing their children for successful careers, personal growth, and for life-long service in North Carolina and beyond. They love it because my brother and I do, and such support, such trust, is a precious gift from the ones I love.
My brother, David, is my best friend, and although he is three years older than me, I remember doing everything together growing up. In high school, I became a Freshman when he was a Senior, and I will never forget how he welcomed me by helping me meet people and get connected. His amazing hospitality has continued- through lunches, State events or spontaneous late-night discussions, and he’s helped me become fully adopted into the Wolfpack family here at State this year.
I still vividly remember the day that David opened his acceptance letter to the NC State College of Design and living that joy vicariously through him. With a brilliant mind and a driving desire to improve the lives of others through product design, I knew that NCSU was where he belonged. It was difficult to watch him leave for school, but it was an amazing experience, as his sister, to watch him grow and mature from afar, writing each other letters and sharing pictures of his models and designs-in-progress. Through conversations with my brother, I became a Wolfpack fan. NC State has given my brother a tremendous gift-an opportunity to rediscover himself, refine his skills to match his enthusiasm, and rocket into professionalism, and for this I owe this University so much gratitude. He speaks of NC State as more than a “second home” and his words began to build this image in my mind of a traditionally homey house with a “red roof.” I originally respected State because of the way it has empowered someone I love; little did I know that these same feelings of NCSU as “home” would be mine, too, in just a few short years.
NC State is home for me because it is where my family and my heart belong. None of us are lone wolves on the tundra; none of us sound our voices alone. We are a pack who cares about one another deeper than the permafrost: we are the strong, the true “Wolfpack”-OOWWWWWOOOO!