Reflections of a Senior Parent

Author name
Seema Sanjeev Podar, mother of Duke student Akshat Pordar

465 miles away. 9 hours and 30 minutes away by bus. 7 hours and 45 minutes away by car. 1 hour and 30 minutes away by plane.

As we waved goodbye to our son on his first day of college, these numbers consumed our thoughts. They imposed a physical boundary on our relationship with our son, transforming months of excitement into miles of separation. Whereas these numbers had simply troubled our minds, however, the unfamiliar emptiness of our home had truly crushed our hearts. With our son at Duke, the dinner table now had one less plate, the study table one less book, and his bedroom one less snore.

At first, only our nostalgic tears filled the emptiness of our home. However, as the days passed, our tears were quickly replaced by our son’s new opportunities, experiences, and friends at Duke. Whether it be tenting in K-Ville for basketball games, learning from world-renowned professors, networking with Wall Street leaders, or interning in Nicaragua, the stories from his every Duke experience made our home a little more “full.”

Today, as we reflect on our son’s Blue Devil experience, the one word that immediately stands out is “family.” Every time we visit campus, the unity and collaboration driving student life amaze us. From our son’s close connections to his DukeEngage group to his strong bond with the FAC program to his presence in the student section of basketball games, every opportunity at Duke has given him the opportunity to discover a new “family”. When our son creates and fosters new relationships, we as parents are also immersed in his new Duke family, filled with unique ideas, thoughts, and experiences. However, as with every family, sometimes there is a little frustration or pain; but, in the end, there is always love. And this love is what keeps drawing us back to Duke.

So, if you were to ask us four years ago, “How far away is home?” We would have told you that home is 465 miles away. However, if you were to ask us the same question again today, we would tell you that maybe home doesn’t have to be 465 miles away after all… because Duke is our home.