Featured Alumnus – Ben Jobgen

In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 1995 graduate Ben Jobgen, Davenport Alderman and Physical Therapist.

Q. What are you doing now?
I reside in Davenport where I recently celebrated 21 years of marriage to my wife and fellow AHS alum Melissa (Kane ’95).  We have two children – Grace ’20, a recent graduate of AHS who will be attending the University of Iowa in the fall – and Luke, who will be attending 6th grade at John F. Kennedy Catholic School.

I work as a Physical Therapist for Rock Valley Physical Therapy, and was elected to represent the 6th Ward on the Davenport City Council in November 2019.

I also remain active in the Assumption community as an Assumption Foundation board member, president of the AHS Athletic Booster Club and Rising Knights Wrestling Club, and as a coach in the Rising Knights Football program.

Q: How did you become a city council member for the City of Davenport? 
Long story short, I was able to convince more people to vote for me than my opponent did for himself.

Q: What made you want to go into local government?
I had not ever considered seeking elected office, nor being involved in the public sector. In 2015, there was an issue within the area of our neighborhood. After attending some meetings, I began to start watching Davenport City Council meetings. There were a few other issues that affected the area of Davenport in which we reside, and my interest in becoming more involved increased.

In 2017, the ward alderman resigned, which led to an open position for the upcoming election. I decided to campaign for the position, as well as did four other people. The results of the primary election found me in 3rd place, which did not qualify me for the city ballot. While I did not win that election, I continued to follow the local issues. I did not agree with how the ward alderman was addressing some of the issues, and felt that I could offer something to the residents of the 6th ward of Davenport.

As a result, I decided to campaign again in 2019. My goal was to become the true voice of the 6th Ward, as I did not feel the prior ward aldermen were acting, and voting, as the residents desired. During that campaign I was able to utilize the lessons learned in 2017 to help the results end in my favor.

Q. What is a typical day like for a city council member?
A typical day includes continued full-time work as a Physical Therapist, as well as all regular activities with the family. For the council, there are weekly scheduled meetings to attend. Otherwise, communicating with people via e-mail and phone is a daily occurrence, (constituents, fellow council members, city staff, and members of other community organizations).

The amount of time to address the various issues changes from day to day, and I tell everyone that asks, you take the necessary time without worrying about how much time it takes. To be an adequate representative of your constituents, you must be willing to spend the required energy, no matter what it takes.

Lastly, this has been quite an interesting time to enter into elected office. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented some variables that I never expected. However, the Davenport City Council has functioned without pause, and the City of Davenport staff has also adjusted appropriately to continue functioning.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being an alderman?
I enjoy being able to work with people to make Davenport a great place to live. I have been fortunate to be proud of the organizations with which I have been associated throughout my life (family, school, employer, and community). Being an active part of successful organizations is very rewarding, and being an alderman for the city of Davenport is a way in which I can achieve that reward.

I believe it is important to work hard to continuously improve, as well as promote the positive aspects of the organization. I also feel being an alderman allows me to benefit from the reward of the hard work.

Q. What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
Some of the most important lessons I learned are respect, and the sense of community. I believe that respecting yourself and your neighbor is a sign of love.

Attending Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, I was always taught to love your neighbor as yourself (I apologize to any of my teachers, and the pastors within the Diocese if I did not get that exactly correct). In my opinion, our society has too many signs of lack of respect, and a healthy dose education about love and respect, like the kind received at Assumption, would assist with improving our community.

The sense of community is epitomized through the Assumption motto, “One in the Spirit.” Having a common bond encourages one to excel, because you don’t want to let down the other members of the community. Also, having a strong, growing, community offers resources that can assist in many phases of life.

The amount of business contacts that can be made through the Assumption community is tremendous, and is unprecedented in the Quad Cities area. Lastly, one can regularly find someone that is directly, or indirectly associated with Assumption with which you can hold a friendly conversation.

Q: How do you feel your time at Assumption has helped you in your career thus far?
I believe the two aforementioned lessons have created a strong base to function not only as a physical therapist, but also as an elected official. I feel there is carryover in both areas, as I get to work with people to address their issues, and improve the current condition. Without that strong base, I don’t feel as if I would be successful at either.

Q: What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
Meeting my wife, Melissa, is tops on that list (both graduated in the great class of ’95). Fortunately, I am able to relive those wonderful memories each and every day.

Another is being a part of the first state championship wrestling team at Assumption. The memories from achieving that accolade are something that makes me smile, and something I am glad to share with the other members of that team.

Additionally, making friendships that have continued even a quarter century later has generated more memories than I likely deserve (unanimously all of us friends are glad we didn’t have the technology there is today to document the memories we created. Storing the information in the recesses of the cerebral cortex is much better, and I’m glad they are there).

Q. Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Winning the team state championship taught me how to come together with others to succeed. As a wrestler, you compete as an individual, and the team aspect is underrated.

Working as a physical therapist, I typically conduct the visit with a patient/client individually. However, there needs to be interactions with co-workers to continue to improve my skills, as well as make sure we collectively do what is needed for the organization to function successfully.

As a council member, I am part of many meetings, in which I work individually, to a point, and then convene with my fellow council members. Therefore the experience of the wrestling team helped lay that foundation of being able to interchange the individual and team aspect of work.

The other experience would be taking US Government with Mr. Mark Kaczmarek, the Knights’ football coach at the time. The reason is not just because I dominated trivia days. Rather, the experience from this class set the basic tenet for my actions in elected office, which includes, “government should do for people, what people can’t do for themselves.” Coach Kacz, I apologize if I have been butchering that quote through the years as well. I have that quote in my head with each decision I make as an elected official.

Q: Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
Mr. Wade King, current Athletic Director and former Wrestling Coach, was my biggest influence. I feel he pushed the wrestlers, including myself, to work extremely hard, and not to be concerned by having to give extra effort. Having a willingness to work hard will carry people farther than they realize.

I also felt he provided structure, and whether it was intentional or not, there was an aspect of planning that I gleaned from the way he organized practices, and had us ready to compete. I also had a healthy fear of Coach King, which drove me to not only do the right thing, because I wouldn’t want to face the repercussions, but to push toward excellence, in order to achieve a mutual recognition for the positive results.

Then next biggest influence would have been my group of friends. While we were a group of kids that didn’t always “get it right”, I do feel they were the best group with which I could have been associated. I thank all of those guys for being great friends, and I am appreciative of the ones with which I still keep in touch. Whether they know it or not, they taught me many lessons, which includes: loyalty, adversity, and humor (to name a few).

Lastly, as cliché as it may seem, there are too many teachers, staff, and other students to also name as great influences. I wish them all well.

Q: What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in government or politics?
I would say to first practice listening and critical thinking skills. No matter what level of elected office, you will be faced with multi-faceted issues for which people look to you to address. You need to be able to understand every aspect of the situation, learn the favorable and oppositional positions, and then be willing to take the action required. Being close-minded and unwilling to listen is not the recipe for public service.

Along those lines, you also need to be willing to work tirelessly for your constituents. There has to be an ability to not worry about what time or day you are called to act, speak with someone, or be part of an event. Once elected, you are expected to serve in that role 24/7, and it is your job to balance that demand with all other demands in your life.

Speaking of constituents, people in elected office must remember the oath they take is to serve the people by whom they were elected. I feel the allegiance of too many state and federal officials is to entities other than their constituents, and that has put current partisan politics in an ugly place. Personally, I enjoy the fact that Davenport has non-partisan positions, and as a group we can address policy for streets, sewers, parks, etc., without extra distraction.

Lastly, know that you don’t need to follow any set path to eventually become involved in government. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Biology, as well as a Master of Physical Therapy. I have worked in healthcare for 18 years, which is not the typical path of study you see from an elected official. Now studying Political Science, Government Affairs, or another similar area of study will definitely show a clearer path to service or work in the public sector, but it doesn’t have to be the only way. Find what you enjoy, and then pursue that path understanding you may change.

Q: Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2021?
Be respectful and kind to all of your classmates, teachers, and school staff. As teenagers, it can be difficult to recognize when we aren’t behaving in an exemplary manner, or it may seem unpopular to show a particular level of decorum.

However, I assure you that you will experience much greater satisfaction from taking the steps to uplift others, by acting out of respect and kindness, than whatever you may believe is the “cool”, or “edgy” demonstration (this is from personal experience).

Be inclusive of all students attending Assumption High School. While this doesn’t mean you will hang out with everyone, nor does it mean you will agree with everyone, it does mean that you should understand that you are all in school together for the same purpose. Those attending Assumption are there to learn in an extraordinary environment, regardless of whether you are able to acknowledge that fact, or not.

The comradery, from including your fellow students, will: help all navigate the experience, lend itself to rewarding memories, and create bonds to help you excel in the future. The Assumption Family is large, make sure to include yourself and your fellow students in the Family.

Lastly, be the reason Assumption is great! I feel if we all take personal responsibility for our actions, with the intention to uphold the mission of Assumption High School, then people will have a wonderful experience at Assumption. As a result, the Assumption Family will grow, it will be something about which people speak highly, and of which they will want to be a member. Go Knights!

Thanks, Ben. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!

Featured Alumnus – Dan Bush

Dan Bush

In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 2002 graduate Dan Bush, Co-Owner of Armored Gardens and the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel in Davenport, as well as Analog Arcade Bar (Davenport & Moline).

Q. What are you doing now?
I just opened our second Analog Arcade Bar location in Moline. I also have a restaurant called Armored Gardens, and a small music venue called the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel.

The QC used to have this 3-on-3 basketball tournament called Hoopfest back in the 90’s. It was such a fun event and we don’t have anything like it anymore. I’m currently trying to revive it.

Q: How did you become Co-owner at Analog Arcade Bar, Armored Gardens, and Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel? 
After moving back from Chicago after college, I really wanted to bring bigger city concepts to the Quad Cities. Most of my AHS classmates moved out of the area after high school and haven’t come back, and my goal is to get people to want to stay after high school (or come back).

Q. How did you come up with the unique concepts for each of your establishments?
I legitimately don’t know. I’ll be driving or going for a jog and an idea will pop in my head and then I think of the steps needed to do it. There is no process. Maybe there should be?

Q: What made you want to go into the restaurant and entertainment industry? 
I get bored easily, and the hospitality industry is always presenting new challenges that constantly keep my brain occupied. I realized early on that I wasn’t cut out for a standard desk job and I really find this work fulfilling.

Q. What is a typical day like for you?
There really isn’t a typical day, and I think that’s a big reason why I love my job so much. It doesn’t trap me in monotony. I try to set aside time every week to research something new whether it be a new concept or a new product.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the restaurant and entertainment industry?
I have a job where my product is selling fun. Seeing people having fun in a place I helped create is worth all the headaches (of which there are plenty).

Q. What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
Assumption has been able to compete academically, athletically, and in the arts with much bigger schools because the collective standard of the faculty, staff, and student body is elevated. People really don’t talk about standards enough, but it really is the difference maker in life. Lower standards mean cutting corners and that makes long-term success difficult. But Assumption instills a standard and work ethic that turns successful students into successful alumni.

Q: How do you feel your time at Assumption has helped you in your career thus far?
I love that Assumption encourages its students to get involved in a variety of different things. As Coach Kacz used to say, “We don’t want one trick ponies.” In four years I played 3 sports, was on the newspaper staff, sang in the choir, performed in plays, and did countless other activities. The best part is that no one ever told me I needed to focus on one thing. I love that, and it shaped how I think now.

Q: What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
Although there were many, being the first quarterback to lead the Knights to four straight National Championships definitely takes the cake. Still waiting for my statue.

Q. Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
I remember how Mrs. Brennan would have us rehearse for plays and how Coach Norton would have us practice in basketball. There was an intense focus on the preparation. When it comes time to perform or compete, things are kind of out of your hands at that point. It’s the time you spent (and how you spent it) beforehand that truly yields fantastic results.

I really can’t remember many games, but I remember the practices.

Q: Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
There were so many. Mrs. Carmine Draude (counselor) was definitely a big influence on my life. She really pushed me and made me want to be better. I remember Mr. Dave Simpson ’82 was the first teacher to talk to me like an adult and I always appreciated that.

Q: What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in hospitality?
Work. Find a place in the area you are interested in that recruits from within and outwork everyone around you. I’ve had jobs that I did for the paycheck and I’ve had jobs where I loved the work and the latter is better every single time.

Q: Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2019?
You have one life to live. You don’t get a second shot at it, so don’t waste it. Stop focusing on what you think others want/expect of you and focus on figuring out what YOU want. Try something, then try something else, and repeat this process until you have found that thing that gets you excited to wake up on Monday’s and do it. It’s that simple if you let it be that simple.

Thanks, Dan. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!

Featured Alumnus – Michael Poster

Michael Poster

In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 1984 graduate Michael Poster, Vice President for Finance at St. Ambrose University.

What are you doing now?
I am the Vice President for Finance at St. Ambrose University. I have been in this position for almost ten years now. My wife Kelly and I live in Davenport. Our daughter Caitlin is a 2012 graduate of Assumption; a 2016 graduate of St. Mary’s College and is living in Columbus, Ohio, and working as a registered nurse. Our son Jake is a 2015 graduate of Assumption and attends Central College in Pella. Our daughter Bridget attends Assumption and will graduate in the spring of 2018.

How did you land your current job at St. Ambrose?
I worked for 20 years in public accounting and the college and university industry was one of the areas I focused on, both as an auditor and a consultant.  While I enjoyed my time in public accounting, I was ready to do something different and applied for the position when it was open.  I am a 1988 graduate of St. Ambrose, so that may have given me a leg up on the competition.

What made you want to go into Finance?
I actually became interested in business while I was a student at Assumption.  I took a few accounting courses, an economics course and a business law course and thought this might be a good career choice for me.  In college, I majored in accounting, minored in business administration, and decided the business area would be a good fit for me.

What is a typical day like for a Financier?
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that no two days are the same. At St. Ambrose, I oversee the Accounting, Human Resource, Physical Plant, Compliance, Student Accounts, and Information Technology departments as well as the Food Service and the Bookstore areas. This gives me a big variety of things to work on every day. One day I may meet with our auditors, the next with our health insurance broker, and end the week working with our architect and Physical Plant Director on a building expansion. This variety keeps the job fresh.

What do you enjoy most about Finance
What I enjoy about the finance area is that I am involved in just about every aspect of our operations.  Whether we are looking at adding new programs, constructing or renovating buildings, or analyzing the performance of our departments or programs, the finance area has a significant role. One area I enjoy getting involved in is the investment of the University’s endowment fund. St. Ambrose uses an outside investment manager, but I enjoy analyzing our performance and working with our Finance and Investment Committee to make the needed changes to our portfolio.

What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
I remember transitioning to college from Assumption was not that much of a change. You had to develop good study habits at Assumption to be successful. My classes at Assumption also required us to develop good writing skills. We had very good English teachers that taught us the proper way to structure a paper and this was very important when I got to college.

How do you feel your time at Assumption has helped you in your career thus far?
As I mentioned above, I think the writing skills we learned at Assumption have helped me throughout my career. When I was in public accounting, I had to write management letters and client reports all the time. Being able to clearly and concisely summarize an issue and report it to the client was very important. I no longer need to document my work in such a formal way at St. Ambrose, but I still need to communicate my thoughts on important issues. Developing those “soft” skills at an early age definitely helped me.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
I was involved in football and basketball at Assumption and have great memories of playing games at old John O’Donnell Stadium. Our football teams were not very good at the time, but I loved playing football even though we were not always very successful. The boys’ basketball teams were very good during that time. They made it to the state tournament my freshman, sophomore and juniors years, winning it all my sophomore year. I was on the team as a senior and we made it to the sub-state final before we were beaten. There was not as many things to do back then and it seemed like the gyms were always full for the big conference games or playoff games.

Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Many of the things I do now I did not learn in high school or college. I think to be successful you need to constantly re-train and learn new things. “Learning how to learn” is one of the most important things you can do in high school and college. For me, that all started at Assumption.

Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
The teachers I remember are Ray Ambrose, Sister Donna and Miss O’Connor. I enjoyed their classes, even if they were in subjects where I did not have a lot of interest. Sister Donna taught Biology and made it interesting and fun even though I was not much into science.

Ray Ambrose was also my freshman football coach. All of my Rising Knights coaches (they were all AHS alums) told me I would love having him as a coach. After the first week, I think everyone on the team would have done anything to get him replaced. He was tough on us and would throw us out of a drill if we did anything incorrect. We were not used to being coached that hard. After a while, he started to lighten up on us and we started to do things his way. By the end of the season, I think we all would have run through a brick wall for him. He made us all grow up and I appreciate what he did for us.

What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in Finance?
I think the important thing is to take some business and finance classes while you are in high school to see if it is something you are interested in studying later. Job shadowing a business or finance professional when you are in high school can also help you better understand a particular career. I also think an internship in college is an invaluable way to gain experience and see what the job really entails.

Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2018?
When I was younger, I could not have imagined doing some of the things I do now in my job. My advice is to get outside of your comfort zone and do things that may scare you or intimidate you. If you wait until you are 100% comfortable, you will miss many opportunities. Getting outside of your comfort zone also requires you to grow as a person. Even if you do something poorly the first, few times you do it, the experience will help you and you will develop new skills over time.

Thanks, Mike. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!

Featured Alumnus – Jennifer Weber Erich

Jennifer Weber Erich

Jennifer Weber Erich – Class of 1991

In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 1991 graduate Jennifer Weber Erich, Strategic Relationship Manager at ExxonMobil.

What are you doing now?
I’ve been a geologist for ExxonMobil searching the globe for oil and gas. Now I am in my dream job, the Strategic Relationship Manager for ExxonMobil’s Exploration Company. It’s a focus on networking externally with other oil companies and host governments in order to partner with them in new opportunities. I am one of the more extroverted people in my company, so this is a natural fit for me.

How did you land your current job at ExxonMobil?
I got two degrees in Geology, my Bachelor of Science at Northern Iowa, and then my Masters at the University of Iowa. While I was wrapping up my thesis at Iowa, the Exxon recruiter came to campus and so I decided to sign up for an interview. I was then offered an internship in the spring of 1999, and then a full-time position a year later. Now I help with recruiting and go out to universities to interview students, so I completely understand the position that they are in!

What made you want to go into Geology?
When I was a kid, my family went camping a lot, so to me, hiking and rock collecting was really fun! Then as I progressed through school, I always had really high grades in math and science. When I took Sr. Donna’s earth science class, all the kids wanted to be my lab partner since I was the top student in the class. I figured that a Geology degree would be the best fit for me, since I had the skills. My Dad told me to do whatever I loved the most, and success would follow – and I loved Geology the most.

What is a typical day like for a Geologist?
There are many different types of jobs for Geologists: environmental, mining, government work, construction, teaching, park service, etc. I chose to be a Petroleum Geoscientist because the technology was really advancing and I could travel all over the world. So, in my world I have a team that I work with every day in the office to look at data and make maps to explore for oil and gas. It is mostly computer and office based, although sometimes we have to go out to the sites for additional data.

What do you enjoy most about your career as a Geologist
In my mind, it is the top science. It incorporates all the sciences; so you have to know chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and advanced mathematics. I also love to travel the world. I’ve been to over 30 countries and counting!

What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
Of course I learned a lot about academics and my Catholic faith, but I matured a lot while I was there. I was an awkward, science and theatre nerd. But I learned how to shake off the drama, focus on school and just be kind to people. That’s really how people remember you.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
I was in KKD for three years, and was captain my senior year. I loved making up routines and teaching the other girls. But my favorite routine was the one I taught the senior guys to dance for the Homecoming Pep Rally. No one had ever done that before, but I wanted to have a little fun and do something different for my last year in high school. So I picked the most fun/cool guys from my senior class and secretly taught them a hysterical routine. I was so proud of how well they did!

Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
One of my best “life skills” I learned was in Mr. Watson’s drama classes. I was in all the high school plays and musicals. I loved singing and dancing on stage. It helped me so much with my confidence in public speaking, when I present to presidents or foreign oil ministers, I never get nervous because it’s just like a performance.

Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
Definitely Sr. Donna and Mr. Watson! I also loved Mr. Wolfe’s way of teaching; he was hysterical and really challenged us in math. He would yell “2 points!” at us if we answered correctly.

What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in Geology?
Take all the math and science classes you can! Learn calculus! While I don’t use it in “real life”, I certainly needed to pass it in college. So learn it early and take the highest levels you can. Also, get outdoors as often as you can. Take trips to the National Parks. Immerse yourself in amazing geologic landscapes, and then you will be familiar with the concepts when you take the classes.

Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2018?
If you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, don’t worry! Take a variety of classes and follow your best grades. Challenge yourself; don’t just take the easy classes. But my father was right, follow your passion and no matter what you do you will be successful. Then work doesn’t feel like work!

Thanks, Jennifer. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview.  Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!

Featured Alumnus – Brett Ebert

Brett Ebert – Class 0f 2008

In a series of interviews with notable alumni about their experiences at Assumption, we recently caught up with 2008 graduate Brett Ebert, Aerospace Engineer for Boeing in St. Louis.

What are you doing now?
I’m an aerospace engineer for Boeing.  More specifically, I’m in Phantom Works, an organization that acts as a military prototyping and advanced development group within Boeing Defense.  I live in St. Louis with my wife, Michaela (Byrne) Ebert, who is also an Assumption graduate.

How did you land your current job at Boeing?
After high school, I knew I wanted to go into engineering, so I headed to Iowa State.  Because Iowa State is a major engineering school in the Midwest, many companies come to campus to recruit.  When the career fair rolled around a few years into my schooling, I made sure to talk to Boeing, hoping to get an interview.  I ended up getting a summer internship working in their defense organization, and I was hooked. Working on the cutting edge of military aerospace was a dream come true.  I went back to Boeing during the rest of my summer breaks and started full time work after I graduated.

What made you want to go into Aerospace Engineering?
Growing up, I was fascinated by aircraft and always kept the idea of working on them for a career in the back of my mind.  I liked watching documentaries about military aircraft and spacecraft, and I’d always be drawing planes.  Once at college, I started in Mechanical Engineering since it provides a broader engineering base and allows you to work in a wide range of fields, including the aerospace industry.  When I started with Boeing and got the chance to work on military aircraft, it wasn’t long before I realized I was where I was supposed to be. I still remember the first time I got to go in one of the hangers as an intern.  I walked into this huge building, and its one big open room, with what had to be more than 20 fighter jets all sitting in it, ready for final testing and delivery to the military.  Seeing these machines up close was breathtaking.  I knew I was staying at Boeing, so I decided to round out my education with an Aerospace Engineering graduate degree.

What is a typical day like for an aerospace engineer?
It can vary quite a bit, depending on your role.  Right now, I’m involved in a modeling and simulation group, so I spend my day developing analytical models and virtual simulations and using those models to provide data to aid decision making.  In other roles, I’ve designed parts, performed testing, and helped with feasibility studies and trade studies.  There are a wide variety roles and career paths within the industry, and you could find yourself spending your days anywhere from a fabrication shop to an office, or from being out in the field doing testing to on the road meeting with customers.  Aerospace engineers can work on any number of projects, from things like fighter jets to jumbo jets, from helicopters to spacecraft.  The products aren’t just limited to planes either, the things we work on can go under the ocean, float on the ocean, drive on land, fly in the sky, and orbit the earth in space.  There’s a whole lot out there, and there’s always something new going on.

What do you enjoy most about your career as an aerospace engineer? 
The best part of my career is getting to be on the cutting edge of new technology (in other words, just getting to work with really cool stuff).  It’s fulfilling and humbling to see the magnitude and importance of the projects we work on.  Our products help to connect the world together, keep us safe, and explore the universe.  It’s a great thing to be a part of.

What are some of the things you learned at Assumption?
From an academic perspective, I really think my time at Assumption prepared me well for success in college and beyond by providing a solid base on which to grow.  While I learned specific things like math and science, writing and history, I think one of the most important things was having learned how to learn. Assumption taught me how to take something I didn’t know and to look at it critically, breaking it into pieces to understand it as a whole. This ability pick up new ideas and concepts has proven to be one of the most important things I took away from my time at Assumption.

How do you feel your time at Assumption has helped you in your career thus far? 
One thing that stands out in my mind is that Assumption taught me to be detail oriented.  In the aerospace industry, small mistakes can have big consequences, and paying attention to the details is crucial.  While at Assumption, I remember some of the teachers being tough about small things like spelling or grammar errors in my writing (thanks Mrs. Luton and Mrs. Tompkins!), or  making a point to ensure we used proper notation and showed our work (thanks Mrs. Murphy!).  Looking back, I now realize how big a deal those habits are and how important that attention to detail is in my career.

Additionally, being a student at Assumption taught me how to be well-rounded and taught me the importance of being an overall good person.  Both inside and outside the classroom, I learned how to be part of a community, how to treat others with respect, how to work as a team, and many other skills that, while hard to quantify, play a vital role in success later in life.  These experiences and lessons helped to shape who I am today.

What are a few of your favorite memories from your time at Assumption?
The things that I look back most fondly on are my memories from my extracurricular activities.  I really enjoyed my time and involvement in sports and band, and looking back, those are some of my most vivid memories.  Things like drumline rehearsals, band trips, cross country meets, tennis matches, and the friends I made (including my future wife) through those activities are the things I think of when I look back at my time at Assumption.

Looking back on your time at Assumption, what are some of the experiences that helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
While I didn’t realize it at the time, my involvement in sports and band helped prepare me to be mindful in my work.  In these activities, you spend your time as part of a team working towards a common goal, and you learn to work with all kinds of personalities.  Looking at it now, this skill is important in my career, because I work with a variety of people and we all need to work together to succeed.

Who were some of the biggest influences during your time at Assumption?
Both the math and science departments were big influences during my time at Assumption, and a big thanks to Mrs. Murphy (when she used to teach math!), Mrs. Wallace, and Mrs. Martin for getting me a solid technical base to push me to where I am today.  One other big influence whose teaching still helps me to this day is Mrs. Luton.  Her insistence on having her students learn the fundamentals of writing and how to convey their thoughts in a concise manner continually affects how I approach getting my ideas across to others.

What suggestions or advice do you have for students who may want to pursue a career in Aerospace Engineering?
It seems like the common advice is to make sure you brush up on your math and science.  While this is true and these subjects form an integral part of the education, that’s not the whole picture of how to be truly successful.  I feel like one of the lesser known keys to success is to get involved and expand your skills.  Get involved in community organizations, join clubs, find a hobby, learn shop skills, and develop your leadership abilities.  These are all ways to not only differentiate yourself from the crowd, but to also make yourself a better and more well-rounded person.  A big part of this industry deals with working in teams, so developing yourself as a person who can connect with and lead others is critical.

Do you have any last words of encouragement for the Class of 2017?
Every now and then, stop, take a deep breath and appreciate what has led you to be where you are today, and enjoy it.  It feels like just yesterday I was walking into Assumption for my first day of freshman year; things have gone by so quickly.  It’s important to enjoy where you are in life.

Thanks, Brett. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview.  Congratulations on all the great work you’re doing!