Change and Persevere in Business and in Work


My friend Lisa recently told me the story of how her husband, Brian, became a Mechanical Engineer. Right around the time they got married 15 years ago, Brian got tired of working at his low-paying, swing-shift factory job, an irrelevant path resulting from earlier youthful struggles. He wanted to go to college, but he was concerned that he wouldn’t succeed. He was 28 years old.

Lisa, who at the time was a college admissions counselor, gave him some practical advice. “I advised him to take an English course at the local community college,” she recalled. “And depending on what grade he received, that would give him a sense of his chances of getting a college degree.” Brian got an A in that English course. Still in need of proof, Brian then took a math course at the community college. He got another A. Which led to his Associate’s in Science degree in Engineering Science. Which then led to his admission to Syracuse University, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was almost 33 years old, a quintessential late-bloomer.

When Brian died almost 12 years later this past August suddenly and unexpectedly from cardiac arrhythmia, he was the lead Mechanical Design Engineer at his company.   In the online memorial guest book, one of his managers wrote:   Engineer: Extremely smart, analytical mind with common sense.

At Brian’s memorial service yesterday, his best friend Wally, an Engineering professor himself and Brian’s biofuel co-producer / co-conspirator, summed it up neatly.  “Brian changed, and persevered.  He was an example to us all.”  Indeed.

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