Knight gets second chance at making the best of Stanford

The Knight Fellowship at Stanford University has changed my life – and classes just started. 

Few people can return to their college alma mater as a student more than 15 years after graduation. I am blessed to have that opportunity and am savoring every moment. 

The journey began with a phone call from Dawn Garcia on April 29. Dawn is the managing director of the Knight program, and that particular Monday was decision day. 

“We would like you to come to Stanford,” she said. 

When I heard those words, I wanted to start dancing like James Brown. Since I was standing on a quiet Cambridge, Mass., sidewalk, in front of my kindergarten-aged daughter’s Catholic school, just before 9:30 in the morning, I resisted the temptation to turn into “The Godfather of Soul.” 

“I would love to,” I said with equal parts excitement and act-like-you’ve-been-there-before composure. 

“Who will you be bringing with you?” 

“My wife, Maria, and two daughters, Eva and Emilia.” 

Life at Stanford as a husband and father of two children under 5 1/2 is a little different from roaming The Farm as a single, wet-behind-the-ears, know-it-all freshman in 1992. 

Now, instead of looking for the loudest party on campus, I spend my Friday nights doing things like going to see The Wiggles play in San Jose. 

I choose classes based on subject matter, not start time, meaning anything before 11 a.m. is now fair game. In fact, just about every class in Explore Courses looks interesting to me. 

As a 19-year-old, I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the privilege I had been given to be a part of the Stanford community.

I don’t have that problem any more. I want to take 20 classes. I want to say yes to everything. I want to attend special events, build relationships with professors and launch a startup. I can’t do all of those things, but I know I can do some of them. The biggest challenge for me will be making sure I don’t do too much. So I keep an open mind and look forward to figuring out my year.