I've been meaning to write this for a while because I want people to understand who I am and how I work.
I grew up in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The town of Shepherdstown is small and quiet but buzzes with activity from the local university. Growing up in the mountains taught me to respect life and enjoy the rich natural beauty that our planet holds. My family had nine acres of wooded land just outside of town and I had many adventures running through the woods, imagining all sorts of fantastical things.
As I grew up I also played with legos. They were perfect for learning that the smallest, most chaotic elements could come together to form something of functional beauty. That synergy is still something I try to attain today in all my work - taking the technical and the artistic and melding them together. I often struggled with this methodology of thought until graduating from university when I realized that today, the renaissance man or jack of all trades is a valuable commodity. The technical geeks often have a hard time communicating with the artists or managers because it is too easy to get lost in the exciting details of the technology, instead of presenting the ways the new technology will benefit the company or its other parts.
High School taught me a lot about people. I was mediating problems on a daily basis and that, combined with my parent's belief that anything could be resolved through clear communication has given me pretty good tools for explaining things and resolving problems among people. I like to continue to hone those skills today by learning about people's motivations and hopes and dreams. All of this culminates in making sure that my coworkers and team members get along well and that we all work toward a very efficient productivity level.
Shepherd University was the college right down the street from where I grew up (literally). One of the biggest and best things I learned there was about diversity. I'd always been surrounded by culture when we had exchange students living in our house growing up and the university providing international diversity programs on a bi-weekly basis. My parents also made sure our faith included people from diverse backgrounds and that judging people, based solely on appearance, was to judge yourself. University really helped me to take a look at myself and ask some critical questions. I understood how sadly discriminatory America still is, though we've come so far from where we had been. Today I'm proud to say that I have GLBT friends and friends from nearly every race and culture across the globe.
So I graduated and it was time to look for work. It's been a few years and I've worked with a number of companies, learning different corporate structures, benefit plans, and building coworker relationships. Each job has provided me with valuable insight and understanding about where I want to work and what I want to do. I am currently part of a mentoring program, outside of my day job, which has given me a great deal of insight and experience in building positive environments and helping others find happiness and success in life. Educating myself and helping to educate others is something I never want to stop doing.
Lastly, I want to finish up by talking about my father. Really, both of my grandfathers and all the women in my family should be included in this too, but that would take far too long to explain every story and happy thought. For my whole life, my dad has been in construction. He owned his own company for 30 years and worked beside good men and women who were the salt of the earth. The most valuable thing I've inherited from him and learned through observation and experience has been his work ethic. My dad was the provider for our family for many years while my mom did the monumental task of raising my sister and me. Both of them worked in unison and made our family wonderful. My dad would often work 50 hour weeks, but he would come home and play with my sister and me until we went to bed. As we got older, he was there, doing the best he could to make sure we had what we needed. When I was in high school, we moved an hour away to Berkeley Springs. He worked for a local resort as their head of maintenance often pulling 80 hour work weeks because of the bad conditions of the resort. Through it all, he did his best to be there for our family. I'm very thankful for all the hard work he's put in over the years to make sure I had what I needed and I'm very glad to say that I've inherited the same qualities. There are many nights I stay late and work extra hours because I believe in what I do. I see that it can have a greater purpose and effect on people than just what I do.
A janitor at NASA was once asked what he was doing as he was mopping the floor. "I'm helping to put a man on the moon," he said. When I see that my work has a higher purpose to help the world, even in the smallest way, I have all the motivation I need to make sure the company I work for succeeds and that I do what I can to make sure we all achieve success.