University honors 2009 Parents of the Year
Judy Dyda sat at a table in the Student Activities Center, clutching her daughter Arielle's hand, smiling and letting a few tears sneak through.
She made the whirlwind trip from Pittsburgh, Pa., late last week to be with her daughter, a University of Louisville senior, and to be honored by the university.
Judy and her late husband, Dave Dyda, were honored Oct. 30 as Parents of the Year.
"I was really surprised," Judy said of receiving the award. "But it's just so nice to be here and get to spend time with her."
The Parent of the Year reception was part of UofL's Family Weekend activities. About 150 families were expected to be on campus over the weekend, for activities, tours and a football game. Many of the 45 parents who were nominated for the Parent of the Year Award attended the aware presentation.
UofL recognized the Dydas for their commitment to their daughter's success. Judy took home a plaque and a framed copy of Arielle's nomination letter.
In it, Arielle wrote about her father's death in 2008. Throughout his battle with cancer, she said, he encouraged her to finish college. He, himself, had never attended.
"Even though he is no longer able to be here physically for me, I continually feel his love and support and his memory is more inspiration to me than anything else," she wrote.
Arielle told how after her father's death, her mother absorbed the responsibility for being the lone caregiver her family, and how she works three jobs to support her family.
"It is because of her hard work to support me that whenever I think that I can skip that class, or not do that assignment, I remember how much she has sacrificed for me and it inspires me to work harder," she wrote, noting that they have grown even closer over the last two years.
In thanking the parents for committing themselves to their sons and daughters and for showing support for their decision to attend UofL, Dean of Students Mike Mardis said that the Parent of the Year award reception is one of his favorite events of the year.
"Parents, each of you are the foundation. You are the ones who build them up," Mardis said.
Before recognizing the parents, Mardis read selections from some of the nomination letters, which, perhaps were the first time students publically stated how they love and appreciate their parents. The letters included such comments as:
"My mom's persistence is persistent. "
"He has built a path for my success. "
"She literally saved my life."
"We did not have a lot of material things. But my parents always provided me the things I needed. The things I needed to succeed."
"My mom is my hero."
Award nominees received a copy of their nomination letters.