rob merrilees: my dad, my hero

By Kristin Merrilees

A Little About Rob Merrilees

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Rob Merrilees knows what it's like to work hard and persevere. He had prepared all of his life to become a lawyer, and when he was almost there, he decided it wasn't for him. My dad made this life-changing decision that night before his first day of law school. The risk eventually paid off when my dad discovered his true passion: working in the financial industry. However, before he could start his own trading company, he had to work hard and learn from the wisdom of others. My dad definitely knew how to create his own future. Now, in addition to working at his trading company, my dad likes photography, spending time with his family and pets, and learning new things.
My Dad's Story

Interviewing my Hero


The Webster online dictionary defines a hero as a person who is admired for great and brave acts or fine qualities. The word “hero” usually brings to mind images of the cherished superheroes from childhood, pictured in Marvel comic books and action movies. However, the definition of a hero can really mean so much more. Supernatural powers or flashy capes don’t define a hero. Kindness, bravery, and dedication do. According to psychologist Philip Zimbardo, "The key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward." Genuine heroes help others without seeking anything materialistic in return-not fame, money or medals. These are the heroes, that for the few people who are lucky enough to hear their stories, will truly inspire their listeners more than a Batman or Superman movie ever could. These are the heroes that will cause others to become heroes, and it just keeps going from there. A hero is anyone who sacrifices to help others and serves as an inspiration for others to also make a difference.

A hero is someone with few possessions donating money and goods to the poor. Consider the strength it takes to give to others when that person could've easily used that money for their own needs. He or she must suspend their own struggles in order to truly be selfless and willingly help other people. This person must also be open-minded and recognize that even though he or she may not have all the luxuries they want in life, others may not even have the basic necessities. Despite their own grievances, this person is willing to help other people. Influencing their community has a much more rewarding feeling than spending extra money on themselves: knowing they've acted heroically and helped someone in need. Or consider a firefighter, risking his or her life to save somebody else’s. Firefighters walk into burning buildings, fully aware of their possible fates, in order to help other people. They must replace their fears and natural instincts with a mantra of helping others, which displays a true act of sacrifice. Both of these examples demonstrate the strength involved in forfeiting one’s own needs in order to help others.

A hero is also someone like Martin Luther King Jr., who inspired a generation to combat injustice. Most people only care about what the world is like during their existence, not worrying about what life will look like for Earth’s future inhabitants. However, Martin Luther King had a different mindset. In fact, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, he included many statements about what he wanted life to look like one day. For example, one of his most famous lines said in this speech is “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In this statement, he is referring to what he one day wants the world to look like. He will not be around to see his children fully grow up, but he hopes that someday when they are adults or elders, this goal will be achieved. This shows how he inspired others to work towards his goal, because he knows that other people will also have to pursue his work towards racial equality, which happened through his speeches, protests, and other work. Decades later, his legacy serves as an inspiration to eradicate both racial injustice and other types of injustice, which has, in turn, had a transforming impact on the world and its people.

It’s an underprivileged person helping someone who has it even worse. It’s how we honor firefighters who have victoriously emerged from the flames and how we remember those who lost that same battle. It’s nationally recognized leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who’ve inspired us to fix injustice in the world. Heroism is not determined by the amount of recognition one has for their actions, but the presence of the qualities that caused those very actions: bravery, generosity, sacrifice, loyalty, compassion, and responsibility.


Technology of the Future: Dreams, Becoming Realities

My Passion Project (Use Visitor Access to Enter the Website)

How My Project Connects to My HEro

I chose this topic because one of my dad's first jobs before trading was working at an artificial intelligence company. Artificial intelligence is programming/creating computers to be capable of doing things that usually require human intelligence. Even though my dad left after a few months due to feeling that the company was too big for him, he still loved and appreciated the subject matter. I think artificial intelligence will be a big part of the world as technology increases. The technology outlined in my project, if and when it is created, will serve the purpose of making human life better. It will eliminate some human burdens and create new opportunities for recreation, business, etc. This relates to artificial intelligence because these technologies are seeking to replicate or replace things that humans usually do. For example, self-driving cars will replace human drivers, and robots will be able to do tasks and chores that humans are used to doing. I also chose this topic because it is something that is simply very intriguing to me. I think it is interesting how technology has advanced so rapidly in the past fifty years. If some of the current technologies today were unimaginable fifty years ago, I think it will be amazing to see the technology that will be available in the next fifty years.

What My Dad Has Taught Me

  • The importance of being genuine/authentic
  • Don't just learn at school. Find other things you want to learn about on your own time.
  • To honor your commitments
  • To thank others for all they've done for you
  • To always be the bigger person
  • You can learn a lot by asking questions
  • To consider others' perspectives and opinions
  • To be aware of history and what we can learn from the mistakes of the past
  • That you can do anything you set your mind to doing
  • To know and care about your relatives
  • To take responsibility and accept when you've made a mistake
  • To be humble--Don't consider yourself as being "better" than anyone else
  • Authorities and adults can learn things/lessons from children