jon parise // friday, december 14, 2018


On November 13, 1979, Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for President, Lee Iacocca assumed the position of CEO of Chrysler, and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" was at the top of the pop charts. And, in the early hours of morning, at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey, I entered the world as Jon Christopher Parise, the first child of Raymond and Kristin Parise.

I attended kindergarten at Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong, roughly a quarter mile from my home. There, I began to make numerous new friends who I previously hadn't known but who lived nearby. Every week, new class jobs were assigned. The most prestigious was that of "Flag Holder." This empowered individual held aloft Old Glory every morning while the rest of the class respectfully stood at attention before the flag and dutifully repeated the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the occasional patriotic song.

Like all the children, I had my chance at this enviable position, but I also created one of my own. It somehow became apparent to me that the student populace required a liaison to confer with the teacher on mutually substantial matters, so every day during the regimented snack break, I would hurriedly finish my cookies and juice in order to pack my things away and stand beside the teacher, where we might observe the class and comment upon their noise level or the day's lessons. I shrugged off the other children's queries about this behavior as simple jealousy.

The next few years of my education were interesting yet uneventful. Looking back at my old progress reports, I see that I only earned average grades. I wasn't exceptionally well-behaved in class, and there were times when I could be labeled a trouble maker. However, my parents attributed these behaviors to a sort of professional boredom. I wasn't being challenged by school, and I had become indifferent.

Somewhere around the fourth grade, I entered my school's gifted and talented program. That helped my situation a bit, as evidenced by my vastly-improved grades. Around this time, I began taking a serious interest in my home computer, and that helped me occupy my mind. In the fifth grade, I entered a statewide science fair and won the first prize for my age category, and the whole school was proud of me. That was my last year in Hopatcong, too, for at the end of the summer, my family moved away to a larger, brand new home in Great Meadows, NJ.

I didn't have too much trouble adjusting to my new town. I continued to do well in school, and I excelled at all subjects equally well. I maintained my strong interest in computers, too. I also joined the Boy Scouts, and through scouting, I learned all sorts of outdoors and leadership skills.

High school was an interesting experience for me. Amongst other things, I made a lot of new friends. I studied and excelled at computer design and animation. I became an Eagle Scout. I was elected president of our chapter of the National Honor Society. I joined the track and cross country teams, and I was captaining both of them by my junior year. I started working, first at a children's amusement park and later at an internet-based company. I ended my high school career by graduating fourth in my class.

I came to the Rochester Institute of Technology to finish my formal education and training. So far, things have been pretty well. My grades are generally very good, and I've become active in a number of groups around campus, most notable Computer Science House. I also worked a number of interesting jobs, most recently for a start-up internet venture based in Hawaii.

I have been getting the impression that it's time for me to make a change in my life. I'm headed in the right direction, but I need to start defining my route a little more specifically. I'm anxious to put the finishing touches on this first chapter of my life, but I'm also a bit scared of what the rest of the story may have in store for me. I suppose there's really only one way to find that out: only time will tell.