This time a year ago my family and I were celebrating.
We started the year off with my return home from Afghanistan. That itself is a great moment for all families. I immediately returned to the classroom at South Mountain Community College and resumed teaching the same course I had been teaching for years, Tuesday night Macroeconomics.
My kids were no longer 15 and 13 but instead 17 and 15 and capable of managing the house without me so I remember feeling a bit useless around the house. After a long discussion with my family I entered the official workforce and looked for full-time employment. This was one of the most frustrating events of 2012 for us. I couldn't find a full-time job. I had interviews and always made it to the end of the process but never got hired. I kept teaching at the college and with the help of my daughter, I ran for public office.
In November of 2012, with 32,367 votes, I was elected to the Governing Board of the Tempe Union High School District. Two weeks later I was hired by BMO Harris Bank as a Personal Banker. Two weeks after that my daughter was accepted to the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. My wife's new program at the University of Arizona was launching and we were finally finding our groove.
2012 turned out to be one of the better years of our lives.
On New Year's Eve, I thought, "If 2013 is half as good as 2012, it's going to be a great year!"
Here we are, the end of 2013, and all I can say is, "Finally."
This was a tough year. Our Church designated this as 'the Year of Faith' and quite often the challenges we face are what deepens our Faith.
In January, I was sworn in to my first elected position.
I was also served (lawsuit) about an hour prior to being sworn in.
In May, our daughter graduated high school and as the Governing Board Member of that high school I had the privilege of handing out the diplomas to all of the females graduating including her. That was a very special moment.
In June, we traveled to Peru on a mission with our Church and did some incredible work for the people of Piura. Mission work is physically exhausting but extremely rewarding.
We had our share of 12+ hour manual labor days but watching our kids help the poor and the needy in a country where the poor and the needy have no where to turn to was inspirational.
The day before the 4th of July, my father-in-law, Albert Manriquez, took his last breath.
This was especially difficult since it was so close to home and unexpected. His death still lingers and we're still mourning. My wife and my mother-in-law still tear up when talking about him. His birthday was Christmas Eve 1934.
We still miss him dearly.
We can create a list of the positive things that happened this year and still feel left wanting. The stressors of family, work, the changes that have occurred in our lives, and those who've passed away this year have left me feeling somewhat melancholy.
2013 was not 2012 and perhaps it shouldn't be compared to it. It was a challenging year. It was a year where we learned a lot about ourselves. It was truly a year of Faith.
I am looking forward to 2014.
I want to first thank God for all the glory always goes to Him. Then I want to thank my wife and kids especially my campaign manager/daughter for helping me win. Without their love and support I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this. Finally thank YOU, for your support financially, with kind words, or your vote. I won by less than 1% so every vote mattered.
I've always believed in service to one's country and service to one's community and have faith in our education system, especially at Tempe Union High School District. I've always been active in the lives of my two children, through community involvement, coaching at the Y and AYSO, or supporting them in their extra-curricular activities, and unfortunately I feel like I have some catching up to do.
Last year I was deployed in Afghanistan and missed out on an entire year of really important moments and memories with my kids. This year I'm making up for lost time by doing everything I can to be involved not just with their lives but in their lives.
I had no interest in running for office when I was discharged from active duty in February and felt really good about being home. Then I was approached about running for School Board as an active member of our community and I still was hesitant. It wasn't until speaking to both of my kids and my wife that I realized this was a great way to get involved in the lives of my children.
My kids are in high school and being involved means supporting them in their extra-curricular activities. What better way to be involved then to run for School Board and have an active vote on the board that directly affects their lives and the lives of other young adults.
And at the end of high school, when they graduate and close that chapter of their book of life, I will have an added bonus, if elected to the school board, of handing them their high school diplomas. TUHSD is a great school district and I plan on sustaining and improving the future of the district for not just my kids but for all young adults and future graduates of TUHSD.