He was there smiling over me the day I was born, welcoming me into this world. He was there teaching me how to ride a bike and picking me up each time I fell over. He was there in the kitchen cooking us dinner every night of the week. He was there cheering me on when I won a triathlon, the biggest athletic accomplishment of my life. He was there holding my hand, supporting me in the ambulance when my life was literally on the line.
My father has been a source of inspiration in my life and has always supported me in all my endeavors. He has been there celebrating with me in my highest highs and embracing me in my lowest lows. He has taught me how to be a good man by respecting others in his calm and gentle manner.
Originally from Sweden, my father, Lennart Kullberg, emigrated to the United States in search of opportunity but also with hopes to start a family. As a Professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, he has taught thousands of undergraduate and graduate students the dazzling subject of chemistry – building a unique connection with each one of his students. So much so that when he retired last year, the students honored him by naming a chemistry scholarship after him.
At home, he has always been my “Papa” whom I’ve looked up to from Day One. He has always found joy in doing the little things around the house that make him a great father – fixing the cars, cleaning the house, doing yard work, cooking (ribs were always his specialty), washing clothes, picking up kids from soccer practice, listening when you needed somebody to talk to. Other than chemistry, his lifelong passion is playing tennis, a hobby he passed along to all of his kids, teaching each of us the game. To this day, the special moments when I feel most connected to my father is playing tennis with him, whacking the ball across the court at each other, smiling and joking all the time.
My father has embodied the joy that comes with being a great dad and he has inspired me to become a father myself in the future. I can only hope to become half the father he has been for me. Throughout my life, my father has loved me unconditionally and that has been the greatest gift he could ever give to me.
Hans Kullberg was born and raised in Gastonia, North Carolina. His father, Lennart, is from Sweden and his mother, Teresita, is from the Philippines. He is an economist and entrepreneur, recently moving back to New York from Lima, Peru where he was a mentor for Emzingo, a personal development company connecting masters students with NGOs in developing countries.