Well – first, I was not a 16 year old doctor. I was, however, an 11 year old taking a college class. That’s about where the parallels stop 🙂
To be more precise, I was an 11 year old taking a BASIC programming class at Reading Area Community College.
This blog is to more or less talk a little about my academic career. What drives me, what I hated, but more important, I wanted to discuss my lifelong passion for learning, and have even had daydreams where I applied to law school or started taking classed to start the path of being a doctor – and then realized I live in the real world and I have to just go back to work the next day. If I could, I would have been a lifelong learner.
However, as mentioned, life happens, family happens – and the closest I can do now is read books or fall down YouTube holes.
But where did it start?
I remember in 3rd grade, one morning we were talking at breakfast and my mom told me I was going to college. My dad said something about the cost (he never really went to college or saw any value in higher education), and my mom basically laid the law down that “Nathan will go to college” – some sort of threat of sorts, but the whuppin stick came out on it. Within 2 hours, I’m in 3rd grade Miss Murphy’s class at Roosevelt Elementary in Birdsboro – and proclaiming to a group of my friends, “I’m going to college!!!”. Of course, they all looked at me like an idiot. I had that effect on people, and still do.
When I started this whole thing, I was also about 100+ pounds heavier than I am now, and felt my life was spiraling downward, quickly. Since then, I have had a change of heart on my long term ability to stick around, but the premise is still the same – I’d like my son to know me, and this is about the best way I can figure. I get to see him about 4 days a month, and I sometimes wish he could KNOW me. Maybe, someday, maybe he’s in college – don’t know, and he stumbles across this. I’d like him to know more about his dad and what made him tick. And – try and set an example for him. He doesn’t understand what schooling I’ve had at this point, and I’m hoping he can go even further than me. I know on my dad’s side, I was the first person to graduate from college, and I’d like to see if my son can maximize all opportunities given to him.
So it all started with Miss Murphy’s class. By then, I was a math wiz and always winning with flash cards. By 5th grade, I believe I was always scoring tops in just about everything, and was in competition with 3 others for the top grades in everything. First names only – Matt, Jason, Sara – they were great competition. In 5th grade, I was offered a class on programming through RACC, I’m not sure how it came about, but I’m glad I did. It sort of shaped the rest of my life. Today, I manage an IT staff of 70, and trace everything I have back to this moment. The child, the wife, the house, the dog – everything I have is based on this one moment where everything else then launched from.
In class, yes, I was looked at strangely. It was a little difficult at first, but I was able to hold it together mostly. I think it was a bit above my pay grade at the time, but it got me curious — and THIS is the greatest weapon you can have an educator. It’s not to teach. Sorry, but it’s to INSPIRE. For me, my greatest teachers and educators got me to THINK, memorizing shit and spitting it back is easy. But can you build something? Can you understand something? Can you analyze things? Can you fix things?
Undergrad…sort of a waste of 4 years, but I was burnt out. I eventually graduated with a computer degree in 4 years after gaining 113 pounds of fat from drinking my face off. I did work for 2 years though in IT there, which then got me my first great paying job right out of college. I was going to post a wild and out of control picture of me below, but it seems all of them tend to have massive amounts of booze, smokes, and people in them who also have since grown up and don’t want their shit pasted everywhere…so we’ll skip that. I started in criminal justice because I love the law and even wanted to be in the FBI for awhile…but that accounting stuff didn’t work well with me. Below, you see me studying very hard my sophomore year right after our TKE formal when I ended up getting a 27% on an accounting test, while having a CPA for a mother. Well, there were some extenuating circumstances here, but you get the drift. Only class in college I failed. That didn’t go over well with the parental unit.
So I switched to computers and used my criminal justice towards a security minor. More on that below.
Graduate…. (part 1)
At 24/25, I was starting to be a grown up and wanted to continue to my studies. I was working in King of Prussia for EDS (now HP) at the Vanguard Group of Mutual Funds. I wanted to go to Nova so bad since I was a kid, and I discovered I lived 15 minutes away! I enrolled in a post-BS track for business. These classes would then, upon completion, count towards your business pre-reqs for your MBA. So, I completed 15 credits with a 3.67 GPA at one of the elite schools in the country. I could hang. Before I could use them towards an “official” MBA track, all 90 of us lost our jobs on the contract. I sold my house and moved back to York. I was sort of pissed about corporate life at this point in my life.
So…here I was, 26 or so, living on frat row…
“You’re my man Blue!!”
Unfortunately, as I was a 26 year old angry at the corporate world with 20k in the bank, no job, no responsibilities, and a fraternity affiliation (former president), I somehow thought it might be a decent idea to hang out with college people again. The thinking was legit. I was in a relationship for most of my undergrad, and since moving home for 2 years and moving to KoP for 2 years, I didn’t really mesh with anyone – they could never understand what it was like to be at York College and be a TKE there. So I thought at 26, hell, I could meet a 22/23 year old and have something real? Well, turns out it’s how I met my wife ass clowns, so don’t knock it until you tried it.
I decided to apply for my MBA there, and I completed 27 credits, with a 4.0 GPA in my classes. After Nova, this wasn’t terribly difficult. Well…the money started running dry and I eventually stopped going because the job I had was in Baltimore, and the 7-10 class I was taking was not conducive to the 8:30 bed time I needed to have in order to wake up at 4AM to get to work. So…I once again put my MBA on hold.
In 2009, I got my first ….job where I work (redacted) and learned a ton about cybersecurity, and quickly. I always thought I security was some super ninja job, but I realized I had already been doing it and not knew. How about that. So I stumbled across a book called “Cyber War” and it changed my life. I then read one of Kevin Mittnick’s books and looked at a program in my region for University of Maryland University College for cyber security. At the time, no colleges were doing anything like it, and the college was cited all over the Maryland Beltway and ….in my industry (redacted)…so I went for it. I was looking for a certification called the CISSP, which was the gold standard in IT security – and this program was designed to teach you the 10 domains of the CISSP from soup to nuts, at the bit/byte level. Sign me up!!
2.5 years later, I completed it. Passed my CISSP!!
So, I was still itching about my MBA. LOVED learning about business. Anyone who has a passing interest in artificial intelligence and metrics – you will love to study businesses. These are like living, breathing creatures. They have names, personalities, and behavioral anomalies. Then you add what market segments you’re targeting, your finance, your strategy, study risk and ROI models – dayum I love this shit. Turns out, UMUC was offering a 1 year MBA for anyone who had a graduate degree through them. Based on your previous coursework, you’d be thrown to the wolves in a fast-paced program. If you had previous business classes like I did, you’d be fine. However, if you just thought you’d wing it – you’re a goner. It would eat you alive. This MBA program was AWESOME. What many people don’t get is MBAs also have their own flavor…
At Nova, there was a premium on management theory and finance, we paid special attention to financial ratios and the Wall Street Journal
At YCP, there were a lot of factories in the area, and the main deal here was widget production, sort of how to manage building millions of widgets.
At UMUC, it was a really good executive type of education. Strategic leadership, global marketing, and great legal studies regarding business. Of most interest, my final project with a team of 3 others was a 125 page paper on Tesla. We were to pick a company, a product, and a market. We picked Tesla and their model 3, we wanted to market to the BRICS+16 countries, and picked South Korea. This made you do market research – one finalist was Brazil, but we found the big problem there was population density. While you have Rio and Sao Paulo, they had a TON of electrical grid problems. Not great for an electric car. What we found with South Korea was:
- 50 million in population, 25 of which all lived in the Seoul area
- Great electrical grid
- Affluent population could afford the cars
- No restrictions with selling Teslas there. If we chose China, they would have made us build a factory there and share our knowledge.
- Same court systems and legal framework
- Allies – treaties apply
- They don’t exactly like the Japanese – so the Toyotas of the world don’t sell well there
- The Tesla was several years ahead of the Kia/Hyundais of the world when it came to battery production with the gigafactory
- Tesla’s one selling point was a battery that lasts 300 miles, about 5 times the leading competitors
- They already had charging stations in the cities
- An island was going to no gas-powered cars within a few years
The degree was priceless to me….and helped inspire me to then pass my PMP. Which led to my current career path.
Today…I have my MCSE (2012), CISSP, PMP, Server+, Security+, A+, Network+, MCSA (2008), MCP (NT 4.0), MCTS – SCCM 2007.
As mentioned…I dream about continuing more. My interest for the past 18 months has been biology, physiology, nutrition. So much I never knew!! I felt that maybe the first 40 years of my life I spent building a career and mastering my craft – I am planning to spend the rest of my life mastering my body and getting a master’s in it – metaphorically speaking of course. I laugh to myself, that if I ever won a $400 million powerball, I’d simply go back to college. I’d probably start a business, and I’d definitely start a charity. But can you imagine having 400 million large in the bank and going back to college already having 2 master’s degrees? This is the shit that gets wings of colleges named after you. Or business schools. “The Fisher school of business” has a nice ring to it 🙂
All of this came from my class in 5th grade.
All of this came from my mom telling me over breakfast that I was going to college.
Don’t underestimate how your actions can inspire your child, or others, to succeed!