Last August, our sixth son Talmadge got a call congratulating him on being accepted into the MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania or UPENN. This Masters of Applied Positive Psychology is a relatively new field that deals with the value of living a positive, meaning-driven life.
We were thrilled for him because it was the fulfillment of a dream to get a Master’s Degree in the study of a subject that he has always had a passion for….learning about how to teach people how to flourish in whatever they are doing. His special interest, as you might guess is about applying the fascinating things he has learned about Positive Psychology to help families flourish!
Our only worry was how in the world he was going to be able to keep up with his extremely demanding job in New York City, carry on fulfilling his heavy responsibilities at church and still be able to put his wife and little daughter at first priority. It seemed pretty daunting. Most of the coursework was online but he spent literally hundreds of hours writing and re-writing paper after paper based on massive reading assignments and lectures. In addition to that he was required to be in Philadelphia from Thursday night until Sunday night once a month for intense training from instructors from all over the world who were experts in their fields in teaching their students about the fascinating components of Positive Psychology.
But he did it with flying colors and a lot of blood, sweat and probably a few tears!
We were so proud to be with he and his wife and daughter as well as our youngest son Eli (who also just moved to Manhattan and works for the same company) and his wife and daughter for the glorious graduation last weekend.
For me as a mother, to see this son who was a stellar basketball player at 6’9” in high school and who took his college at Weber State University to the NCAA…..whom I worried about so much as he struggled mightily with reading as a child, walk through that line was pure joy! You’ll recognize him in all the pictures because he is at least a head taller than anyone around him.
As you can see,by my hair, the wind was blowing and it was not really warm. We were all wishing for an extra sweater like the one Tal’s wife wore of Tal’s that just happened to be in the diaper bag! But it sure felt warm to be together!
We saw where Tal attended his first class on that astonishingly beautiful campus that we’d never had the privilege of seeing before that weekend.
Most of his classes were at the Wharton School of Business. This beautiful building was donated by our generous neighbor in Salt Lake City, Jon Huntsman.
And the classrooms were reminiscent of the classrooms when Richard attended Harvard. Except they desks there were considerably older!
This incredible wife was undeniably the hero of this story as she held down “the fort” and lovingly cared for their two year old daughter through the whole year, including enduring many lonely nights on weekends.
At a reception for the class on Friday afteroon, each person in the class got a special award from their classmates on the back of the class medallion. Here was Tals’ award which was perfectly appropriate!
Meeting many of his 38 classmates with vastly different backgrounds and interests was fascinating and eye-opening. One woman traveled from Australia once a month for the class. Another guy, who generously shared his large hotel room with Tal, came from Germany (see the picture of them sitting together below). Many people moved to Philadelphia from all over the country for the year to be able to experience this unique class, only taught in one place in the world: UPENN. All these eclectic new friends and fabulous and many quite famous professors obviously adored Tal!
Is it just that I’m his mother or does Tal literally glow?
After the formal walk for the diplomas, we were invited to the home of Martin Seligman who was the genius mind who started this program and whom we have heard about all year. His home was beautiful and it was fascinating to get inside his creative and genius mind for a few minutes! Tal has so much respect for him!
The school was started by Benjamin Franklin who was omnipresent in the form of statues all over campus!
On Friday afternoon, Tal graduated with diploma in hand with the hundreds who were in his college. Saturday morning the spectacular regalia of the UPENN graduation was a sight we’ll never forget:
The ceremonies were actually far from dry or boring. The President is a woman with a lot of pizzaz and the commencement speaker was John Legend, whom I had never heard of (shame on me), who graduated from UPENN and has the number one R&B song in the nation on the charts this week. He did a fabulous job talking about LOVE! In addition to recently being married, he has done humanitarian work all over the world and his talk was outstanding!
What a grand weekend to share!
A big shout-out goes to our niece and cousin Chelsia and Sam Evans who, due to the lack of hotel rooms in the area generously offered to accommodate six extra adults and two extra children in addition to four of their own in their cute rock house near Philadelphia for our overnight stay. This included a great yard for the kids to play in, a lovely Sunday dinner and a lot of catching up on each other’s lives! Thanks Chelsia and Sam!
What a wonderful weekend!