Guest Column | October 13, 2011

The Fellowship

By James C. Rautio

I presented the student paper awards at the IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium, January 16 to 19, 2011, in Phoenix, AZ. In each of four areas, I handed out a full university copy of Sonnet, plus personal copies of Sonnet to all of the first- and second-place paper authors. It was a lot of software to a lot of bright young engineers. I felt it was important to do ... because of the fellowship.

The student paper awards were organized by Talal Al-Attar (Santa Clara University) and Rashaunda Henderson (The University of Texas at Dallas), and they did an incredible job. They invited me to say something at the beginning of the award presentation that would be, “evocative.” Here is what I said:

“Thirty-two years ago, I married the love of my life, and she is sitting right there!” Yes, indeed. So many years, and we are still totally in love with each other, oh so lucky. I hope you are, or will be so lucky, too. It makes life nice.

“Thirty-two years ago, I also entered industry and I found that I had joined the fellowship - the fellowship of the microwave community. I found many new friends, who warmly welcomed me.” I found these friends and mentors not only where I worked, but also at the conferences I attended.

“In fact, this entire room is tonight filled with members of our fellowship.” Reuniting at conferences with other members of the fellowship, even if only for a moment, is a major reward of attending conferences.

“The fellowship is full of friends, not just ordinary friends, but true friends. These are friends who know the meaning of true friendship.” Superficial friends do not count. People who “try” to be friends do not count. People lacking empathy pretending to play the game do not count. Fortunately, the microwave community has many ...

“... friends who know the obligations of true friendship.” Hold on! Obligations? I didn’t sign up for that! What kind of obligations? Easy. True friends never mislead each other. They trust each other. They always speak well about their true friends to others. If there is a problem, they take the problem directly (and politely) to those involved. We all know someone who speaks, “in confidence,” saying bad things about someone else. We can only wonder when that person will turn their words against us, when we are not around. True friends do not kick anyone’s sand castle down.

“... friends who know the joy of true friendship.” If this statement resonates with you, you know true friendship. If it seems corny or silly or pointless, you are not a full member of our fellowship. Please consider joining. The joy that you will experience will carry you through a lifetime.

With that, I asked all the students to stand and an immense round of applause instantly erupted.

“Welcome,” I said, “to the fellowship.”