Wednesday, January 9, 2013

TING AND I, Son Phil


High school basketball games were fun. Phil got some playing time as a freshman on the junior varsity team and won a starting role there as a sophomore. He had some playing time as a junior on the varsity and was a starter as a senior, probably the third-best player on their league’s championship team, with fine speed, good passing, dribbling, shooting—and he often grabbed the rebounds, even against taller players. He was one of the few on his high school team who could easily dunk the ball. I see in my mind’s eye his catching a rebound on its way out of bounds, throwing it, while himself in mid-air, down-court to teammate Steve Kupfer, before sailing out of bounds himself, with Steve scoring at the far end. Hustle, agility, situational awareness.

Phil’s coach thought he could get an athletic scholarship for basketball at a small college (Division III) if he wanted, but Phil’s tuition was going to be covered by his professor father’s interschool exchange, just as Ted’s had been, and we could supply much of the living expenses, largely with money we had set aside for each boy from the buy-out of Tina’s share of the Chicago condo. No need to go the athletic scholarship route.

Phil balanced sports, academics, and social life well. Popular, even class president his senior year, a fine student, athletic and charming, Phil glided through Ramsey’s high school.




Well before his 2000 graduation, Phil and I discussed his plans for college. He had no particular field of interest, so I suggested that a business degree might give him latitude in future choices, with better job opportunities than a liberal arts major would. He agreed.

He applied to several colleges, among them Boston College. We liked that it had a good reputation and had retained some of the Jesuit founders’ emphasis on moral behavior. Ten percent of their new admissions were class presidents, as was Phil, whose grades were near the top ten percent of his high school class. The school had an active sports program, intramurals to participate in, intercollegiate teams to cheer. BC it was.


Boston College proved to be a very good choice. Phil graduated in 2004, with some solid training in obtaining his bachelor’s degree as a business major. Strong friendships were formed. His grades were good. Fun was had.

The few students we met from Boston College were kids we liked and that we had no reluctance for Phil to be with. We liked his steady girlfriend, Maggie. He was clearly learning something in his coursework. He finished toward the top quarter of the graduating class. The campus atmosphere was traditional and fun, and he and we enthusiastically rooted for the football and basketball teams. His senior year he shared half of a house with ten of his BC buddies, and they have remained friends.


One summer during college, Phil spent two months in the Dominican Republic, volunteering in the Amigos program, living with a teacher’s family in a tiny town, eventually helping to upgrade their athletic facilities. We missed him. It was good experience: nice relationships with the host family and friends, helped his Spanish, though his stay did not much improve the lives of the people there. Such is the nature of much volunteer work.


The summer between his junior and senior years at BC, Phil worked in a marketing internship for the May Corporation (then owner of the Filene’s department store chain). He did so well that they committed to hire him when he graduated from BC. He worked in the Boston area, then moved to New York when Macy’s and May merged. Closer to us meant more convenient visits.


After a couple of years with Macy’s, Phil was ready to pursue an MBA. He did well on the MCAT exam and applied to several schools, including the University of Chicago. U of C’s business school, Booth School of Business, admitted him for fall 2008. He did well there, got good grades. He lived in the Hyde Park condo of his father and stepmother, who were there half the year. He made good friends, with one of whom, John, he later shared a New York City apartment, when they both got jobs in the New York metropolitan area. The girl he started dating midway in his first year, Jessie, we liked a lot. I thought she was the kind of girl I would have picked for him or for myself: smart, pretty, polite, cooperative, congenial, and of Asian ancestry. After two years of going together, they broke up, however.

Phil interned with American Express between his two years in the MBA program. AmEx and he seemed like a good match, so he accepted their offer that fall to come to work for them after graduation.

What Phil sets out to do, Phil gets done.

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