As a graduating senior, I have much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for the gifts of my Georgetown education, which have transformed my mind and heart forever. I’m thankful for the great friendships I’ve made here, ones that will hopefully last a lifetime. I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities I’ve had as a member of the Hilltop community.

But I’m most grateful for my parents. Without their love and support, none of those things would ever have been possible. Growing up, they gave me the most loving and nurturing home imaginable. They allowed me the opportunity to discover and pursue my dreams.

Over time, I realized how they began to share in my dreams for the future, allowing my hopes to become theirs. They don’t need me to tell them how much it has meant to me to be able to study and come of age here at Georgetown for the past four years — they’ve already known it for some time.

But there was a dream that came before Georgetown. In fact, it was a life goal I was able to complete in 2006, over a full year before I’d enter Harbin Hall for the first time. And like graduating, I could never have accomplished it without the support and dedication of my parents.

My dream was simple: to visit all of the ballparks of Major League Baseball. Actually fulfilling that dream was the fun part.

When I attended my first baseball game with my parents at Yankee Stadium in 1997, none of us thought it would be the start of a multi-year journey — it was just a rite of passage for my brother and me to attend our first big league ballgame. Little did we know what we had begun that day when we watched the Twins beat the Yankees, 5-4.

Over the next few years, we’d take weekend trips to Boston, Toronto, Baltimore and Philadelphia to see ballgames while also enjoying the best those cities had to offer. During one of these trips, one of us — I can’t remember who — must have thrown out the idea of expanding our adventures, to see if we could visit each of America’s ballparks. Thus our quest was born.

From 2002 to 2005, our summer vacations were devoted to accomplishing this goal. Week-long trips to the Midwest, Great Plains and California, along with weekend junkets to Texas, Atlanta, Florida and Montreal, went a long way in helping us to fulfill our mission. It was a crazy three-day trip to Denver, St. Louis and Seattle in 2006 that made our dream a reality.

Obviously, our trips focused on attending ballgames. But the two things that will stay with me the most from our journey are what I learned about America and what it means to accomplish our dreams.

I believe visiting America’s ballparks was a perfect way to discover the rhythms of America. Travelling along each city’s public transportation system, visiting some of their great tourist attractions and museums and interacting with the crowds at their stadiums allowed me to understand what drives and makes each city distinct. The way fans in St. Louis never boo their hometown Cardinals or how Dodgers fans in Los Angeles arrive in the third inning and leave in the eighth speaks to the values that define their cities.

But our journey also helped me to learn a lot about myself and how we fulfill our goals. In retrospect, our quest demonstrated that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. But today, it also makes me realize that we do nothing completely on our own. It was only because of the commitment of my parents to the hopes of their growing boy that we were able to achieve this insane goal.

There’s a great photograph of me with my dad at Safeco Field in Seattle, celebrating the completion of our journey. Quite fittingly, even though I was a junior in high school at the time, I was wearing a sweatshirt that said “Georgetown” across the front. In that one picture, you can see the fulfillment of these two goals as well as their connection.

Both travelling across America and attending Georgetown have allowed me to discover new and wonderful things about our country, our world and myself. Neither my parents nor I could have realized where our adventure would lead us. But I firmly believe my experiences travelling to America’s cities helped shape the person I am today, experiences that have greatly influenced my time on the Hilltop.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of attending a game at each of America’s ballparks. We will have the memories of those road trips for the rest of our lives.

And thanks for Georgetown, too.

Nick Macri is a senior in the College. This is the final installment of The Big Picture.

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