Education: A Love Story

My son Isaac, known as “4 year-old Einstein” has become one of the most celebrated youngsters in the United States. I’m so proud of Isaac, who has won the heart & mind of many American academicians –including Presidents of various American universities (including Lehman College President Ricardo Fernandez) at such an early age! However, Last night something strange happened to Isaac at around 2 a.m.

CUNY Lehman College President Ricardo Fernandez takes Isaac’s interview on July 12, 2016. It should be noted that, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, another Muslim, received a Gold Medal from President Fernandez on March 10, 2008
CUNY Lehman College President Ricardo Fernandez takes Isaac’s interview on July 12, 2016. It should be noted that, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, another Muslim, received a Gold Medal from President Fernandez on March 10, 2008

Isaac was sleeping with my wife and me. However, soon a noise woke me up and I discovered Isaac was missing from the bed. I did not get scared because I’m familiar with these type of events, as Isaac occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night to solve math problems with Albert, his brother. The sound that was coming from the bedroom included neither the interaction between the chalk and the blackboard, nor Isaac’s brother, Albert. I got up to check what was going on, and I saw something unexpected: Isaac was talking while watching his interview with President Fernandez. I started writing every word that was coming out of his 4-year-old voice:

Dear President Fernandez,

I have learned from my dad that you have been the President of Lehman College since 1990, making you the longest-serving among CUNY’s twenty-four current presidents. My mother  told me you made my father famous when you put his picture on the banner in front of the college library. My brother told me you earned your Ph.D. from Princeton University, which happens to be my #1 dream school.

President Lisa Coico told me that you have brought many world leaders to Lehman College including President Obama and UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon–making the college a center for global influence. Dr. Daniel Kabat told me that you made Lehman College an educational excellence, and helped many immigrants make their American dream come true. Vice President Jerald Posman told me you gave a Gold Medal to Dr. Muhammad Yunus, one of my father’s mentors. And Dr. Brian Murphy told me that you made Lehman a cultural beacon for the Bronx — a way to improve the community by creating avenues to education.

Isaac & President (2)

You became my hero even before July 12, 2016, when we met for the first time. This is why it was the greatest day of my life for many reasons, but I’ll mention seven: (1) When I couldn’t reach the other side of the whiteboard, you held me, much the same way my dad  (2) During the middle of interview, you realized I was thirsty, and offered me Apple Juice like my mother, (3) When I lost focus, you motivated me, like Albert, my brother, (4) When I was making mistakes, you helped me make my lemon battery, much the same way as Dr. Daniel Kabat (5) I became very nervous when I saw people from BronxNet video taping our interview with their huge cameras. Like Vice President Jerald Posman, you helped me overcome my initial nervousness by playing with me before the interview; (6) Every time I  finished solving problems, you would erase my board like Dr. Brian Murphy. (7) President Lisa Coico told me that there is nothing more important than a book, and you gave me the most important book I can imagine.

You made me ambitious, but more than that, you made me hopeful in the American Dream. My dream is to get into an Ivy League school like Princeton University — your Alma Mater — at the age of 10. Let me explain:

I love math & science due to my affection for many scientists, including Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. In fact, my dream is to earn my second doctorate in math from Cambridge University due to my love for the father of physics. My affection for Einstein is even deeper, so much so, that it led me to visit his home in Princeton, New Jersey, numerous times. Every-time I visit Princeton, I remember you, so maybe one day you can tell me how you succeeded in a top university like Princeton, so I can use it when I get there.

President takes Isaac Interview (4)

This is why I decided to pursue my first doctorate degree in Physics from Princeton, where you have earned your Ph.D. I also want to earn two more doctorates, one in Chemistry (due to my affection for the Periodic Table) from Harvard and the other in Computer Science from New York University (my dad’s Alma Mater), because I want to learn how to create better Physics simulations that demonstrate physical phenomena. I want to earn four doctorates because by the age of 40, I want to solve four problems, including String Theory, Dark Matter, Quantum Computing and making Fusion a reality. From age 40 to my final days, I will work toward achieving what you did as a Lehman President for 26 years : ensuring that all the disadvantaged have access to quality secular education. Recently, I’m planning to make a swift transition from the Baby SAT (a mock version of the SAT that my father created to help Albert for the Real SAT, which he used to take when he was my age) to the real SAT. I’m taking preparation to take the SAT on December 3, 2016. I know my dream will come true, because the author of my dream is President Ricardo Fernandez.


Isaac's Letter to President

I was surprised when all of a sudden, Isaac stopped talking: Instead, he kissed the projection of President Fernandez on the wall. I broke the silence, “What are you doing Isaac?” “I wanted to write a letter to President Fernandez, Isaac said, “But what are you doing, Dad?” I wrote every single word that you said as you were watching your Interview with President Fernandez, and I want to say that I’m very proud of you. Isaac then asked me if we could go to the Post Office. I was shocked! “Why would you want to go to the Post Office at 3:00 AM?” Isaac said, “Because I want to send the letter to President Fernandez!” However, when I informed him that the Post Office (USPS), was closed 3 in the morning, he looked very sad. I decided to honor the emotion of this the emotion of this 4-year-old, and take him to the FedEx office, 3 in the morning.

There is a 24/7 FedEx office in Manhattan on 60 W 40th St. While I was giving the letter to the FedEx person, Isaac asked him, “When is the President going to receive my letter?”. “2, or 3 days”, the FedEx guy responded. Isaac looked defeated, “How can we make sure he gets it in the morning?” The FedEx guy looked at him and said, “It’s almost morning. Why don’t you go to Lehman College, and give it to him yourself?” As soon as we arrived at the Lehman College campus, Isaac ran towards the President’s Office, and even when I shouted for him to stop running, he merely ignored me and kept on going. Once again, I decided to honor the emotions of this 4-Year Old boy, when I let him run by himself to the President’s Office. I looked at the sky, and said : “God, Please help him find his path to the President.”

Rashidul Bari teaches Computer Science at Princeton University, mathematics at CUNY-Baruch College and physics at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math & Science. His anti-Islamic State website is Bari Science Lab.

About the Author
Rashidul Bari moved to the United States in 2000. He is currently a doctoral student at Columbia University and he teaches mathematics at Bronx Community College. Email :
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