By: Jamie Canup, Partner
Hirschler Fleischer
June 18, 2017

I’m the (very) proud father of three (employed) millennials. They are each very different people and each has sought to follow their passion and find a way to keep that passion front and center as they go out in the world. If they can do that and make their life fit with their passion they will each be very lucky individuals. I’m not sure that making your work your passion is such a very good idea, but I do believe that working to keep your passion foremost in what you do in life is very important and leads to a rewarding life. I’ve tried to teach that to my children and to remind myself of that too as I face new challenges every day.

My son, Will, once told me that I had basically had one career my entire adult life – I’ve been a transactional attorney focusing on tax matters. Will told me that he is convinced that he will have multiple careers over his lifetime. While his undergraduate and graduate degrees are in architecture and architectural history, Will is convinced that he will change his career over his adult life as he faces a world that changes on almost a daily basis. Will believes that he will constantly be re-inventing himself to keep up with the way the world moves faster and faster, and that the greatest skill he can develop is the ability to be nimble and respond to new ideas. So he’s obtained his realtor’s license, gotten certifications in construction, is LEED certified, and is pursuing new avenues of certifications and licenses in order to be one step ahead, ready for whatever may come next. Will’s passion is historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse but that doesn’t mean that he will always follow that passion as an architect.

My eldest daughter, Elise, has multiple passions centered on how food, art and culture intersect. She’s worked for a history museum in Pittsburgh, been an intern at the American Academy in Rome Sustainable Food Project, traveled with the Vatican Splendors exhibit from California to Brazil, and managed an organic farm and its farm to table program. She now works for The Frontier Project, which is an organization that helps companies transform themselves as they recognize that they must change in order to stay relevant and competitive in a dynamic market place. Elise too recognizes that in today’s world the ability to accept change and stay in front of changing environments is a crucial skill not only for individuals but organizations. Elise’s passion is how cultures intersect and adapt to each other – to that end she speaks three languages and is working to be at least conversant in three more. I’m amazed that she finds the energy and desire to learn from others when it’s so easy to expect others to learn from you instead.

My youngest daughter, AC (short for AnnCharlotte) has always been championing the cause of those she feels are in need. AC was the president of the gay-straight alliance at her high school and help grow it into the largest organization at her school (over 50% of the students became members). She was selected to be a commencement speaker at her high school graduation and gave an impassioned speech to her fellow graduates on service to and defending those in need. Senator Tim Kaine was the featured speaker right after AC’s speech and started his speech by saying “I’m not sure that I can add anything of value after hearing AC speak.” After graduating from college, AC join AmeriCorps and worked with foster children who had aged out of a foster program and were seeking to obtain a post-secondary degree. The number of foster children who go on to obtain any form of post-secondary degree is shockingly low. These young adults have no families to count on to help them go beyond a high school diploma. They lack the support network that others take for granted to help them get some form of higher education and deal with the challenges that adulthood brings. AC now works at the admission’s office of her alma mater focusing on non-traditional students by helping them through the admissions maze and also providing academic advising to make sure that any credits they do have will be recognized. She’s also tutored students in history and philosophy and coaches the women’s rugby team. Next fall she plans to pursue a graduate degree in college administration and advising. She knows the importance that higher education plays in opening doorways for a person’s future and her passion is to help individuals grow their chance for a successful future.

Although they are each very different individuals, what each of my children possesses is a willingness and desire to tackle new ideas, visions, and concepts, and find the tools to let them do so. They believe that their futures lie in their ability to change, adapt and respond to their world. My children impress me because they recognize that their ability to garner new skills and further their education is a life-long skill they will need to meet the challenges they will face throughout their adult lives. I’m enjoying watching them as they do so and am proud to be their dad this father’s day. All my love Elise, Will & AC – your dad.

About the author:
Jamie Canup is Chair of the Tax Practice at the law firm of Hirschler Fleischer based in Richmond, Virginia.  He is also an active member of CSPN (and a former Chair of the Corporate Affiliates Advisory Board of CSPN), a frequent speaker at conferences and webinars on issues concerning tax-favored education provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, and has been quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and other publications on 529 Plans.  He can be reached at