Everyone my step son, Pedro Rodrigues-Peres,neto, achieved 50 years of age today. I'm so proud of him!!! He was and still is a charming and courteous man. He has proved himself to be man of incredible intelligence and wisdom. As a youngster, he was always taking apart very complex toys and putting them back together. I saw him as being "a natural" as an engineer. My dream was for him to go to the United States Naval Academy. In my mind, he would have received an excellent engineering education. His five years as a US Navy officer afterwards would have given him some great management experience.
Pedro decided to take a different path in life. He wanted to be a scientist. He received a BS and MS degrees in the life sciences at very good universities in Rio de Janeiro. He decided to go on for his PhD. He was not happy with the options offered by Brasilian universities. He decided that he wanted to study in North America. He picked the zoology program at the University of Toronto. It was a 5-year commitment and very expensive. Pedro decided to take a big risk. He applied for a scholarship in Brasil that would finance his PhD education at the University of Toronto. This program is fiercely competitive. Each year literally hundreds of Brasil's "best and brightest" apply for the ten openings. Pedro was one of the fortunate ten picked for this scholarship.
He went from tropical and laid-back Rio de Janeiro to the cold winters of Toronto. He had to switch from Portuguese to English as his main language. He had to endure very cold winters. He had to adapt to a different culture. He had a tough five years. He earned his PhD degree in 2002.
Obtaining such a degree is quite an accomplishment. Finding gainful employment at some bio technology firm would have been a serious and financially-rewarding option. Instead Pedro decided to pursue at science career as a researcher and teacher. Finding gainful employment at a university is a big challenge. In some cases only 10% of the PhD graduates make it to a paying job at a university. Pedro overcame this obstacle. He worked his way up form post-doctoral fellow to instructor to associate professor and finally full professor at Concordia University in Montreal. Along the way he had to learn to speak French to survive in Quebec.
Pedro's grand mother was an incredible Brasilian woman named Dona Amelia Peres. She was a pioneer feminist with incredible success in business in Brasil and Portugal. I tell Pedro that if she were alive, she would be very proud of him.
Pedro you have exceeded my highest expectations. I'm so proud of you today!!!! Feliz Aniverario!