According to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg of New York gave his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, a quarter of a billion dollars. Mayor Bloomberg was a “C” student that Johns Hopkins took a chance on—lucky for them!
Given today’s highly competitive candidate pool, “C” students can’t get into a prestigious school like John Hopkins, and may find it difficult getting into many four-year institutions. Dan Wilkenfeld knows this first hand— two years ago he was declined by his top four-year college choices because of his “C” average at The Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield, New Jersey, limiting his options.
Despite his GPA, Mayor Bloomberg apparently came to life academically in college because he was challenged and studying things that interested him. The same was true for Dan who discovered his love for learning and education while taking classes at Union County Community College. This spring, Dan will complete his associate’s degree and he has already been accepted by Kean University to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Dan’s goal is to become a physical education teacher. He played baseball and soccer in middle school, basketball in high school and also holds a lifeguard certification. His love of sports, children and the outdoors landed him his first job at age 12 umpiring little league games. By 14 he was refereeing basketball games for the recreation department in his town and at age 15 he started life guarding and teaching swimming at his town pool. Today he umpires baseball and softball in the spring, basketball for two different towns in the winter, and continues to lifeguard and teach swimming in the summer—all of which he loves so much he would do it for free. On top of this, he also manages to fit in a front desk job at a fitness center.
When Dan graduates from college in two years, I’ll bet he has a job. His resume will be filled with relevant experience, he will have professional contacts in the community and he will have the support of parents, if he asks for it. I met Dan last month when he started refereeing my fourth-grade daughter’s basketball games. What became quickly obvious to most of the parents on the sidelines was how patient and gentle he is with the girls. Dan uses his time to teach the girls about the rules in order to make them more knowledgeable and successful. You don’t always get that in a ref.
Some people bloom later than others. Community colleges can be a great place for students like Dan to get their footing, try out a variety of courses and gain the self-confidence to succeed. Couple this with a clear professional direction, a strong work ethic and the intelligence to work in career-building jobs, and you have the makings of a highly successful adult.
Feel free to connect with Dan on the CareerFuel community. He is happy to help anyone struggling to figure out their next steps as a young person in life.
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