Fatherhood: students reflect on the importance of the men who raised them

Biomedical engineering freshman Fiza Saeed said she has two prominent father figures: her biological father, who lives in Pakistan, and her uncle, who she lives with now.

Saeed said her father inspires her daily through his sacrifice of ensuring her a better life than his own — always putting her education first.

Now living in the U.S., she said her uncle advises her with her career and financial and academic concerns.

Saeed said Father’s Day has always been important to her because of how much she respects her father figures. She plans on sending gifts despite it not being a big holiday in Pakistan.

Casey Gonzales, assistant dean of students and Parent and Family Center director, said having a strong father figure helps set a direction and purpose in a person’s life.

For him, the work as a rancher that his father had him do taught him a strong work ethic and the value of humility.

However, Gonzales said his relationship with his dad was not always the best. When Gonzales was 14 years old, he left home and abandoned a life of ranching with his dad.

“I wanted to be out there amongst people and not cows,” he said. “I wanted to be able to play football and basketball and do some of the other things that all my friends at school would do.”

Not returning until his senior year of high school, Gonzales said his father continued to support him and quietly watched over him despite Gonzales choosing a different lifestyle.

Film senior Tamara Tidline said she had a hard time connecting with her father because of the time he spent in the military and the post-traumatic stress disorder that he suffers from.

Nevertheless, she said her father’s commitment to service has always motivated her to be the best version of herself.

“Going through four deployments and getting blown up three times, you know, he’s made a big sacrifice, and I just don’t want to waste his sacrifice,” Tidline said. “I just want to make my parents proud.”

It doesn’t matter if a father figure is biological or adoptive, Gonzales said. A person’s father figure could be a brother, an uncle or a grandfather.

Fathers serve as an example to their children, and children will almost unconsciously emulate them, he said.

“My father is my constant reminder for honesty, integrity, love and how to cherish a woman,” Gonzales said.

Now that Gonzales’ father is dead, he said he keeps his father close by having a framed picture of his dad sporting a ten-gallon cowboy hat, a shiny belt buckle and cowboy boots, in his office.

“There’s value in anyone who cares enough about a child,” he said. “To show them values and show them and give them information so that they can actually draw from all that and decide what they want to be.”

@CecilLenzen

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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