A few minutes ago, a friend of mine posted about the passing of one of my old bosses. I worked for him in the admissions department of his passion project university during what I call my lost year. It was the year I gave up on teaching–the year a major relationship fell apart–the year I found this path that I’m on. A crazy, frustrating year. I actually worked for him twice. I quit a few months after I first started only to return the following spring.
I remember going to the interview a few days after I quit my teaching program, after coming home from Houston–not expecting very much. It was a job through an agency, and the recruiter told me I would probably hate it–but some people loved it–and there was really high turnover. Most people didn’t do well or just left because it was a difficult job. I really didn’t care. I was heartbroken–didn’t want to go back to recruiting–and needed a job. Yes–I needed money–but I needed a place to go every day–something to distract me from the fact that I had no idea what the Hell I was doing anymore.
It was a group interview. We all sat, waiting, in this big atrium filled with palm trees and a waterfall. We were all high energy go-getters. I somehow nailed the interview and started training soon after. I’ll spare you the details of it, but–suffice it to say–I learned a lot about our founder and his mission. He was kind of this mythical man to us–this guy who’d done kinda insane things and had big dreams. I grew to admire his vision, and I believed enough in it that I enrolled–on their dime (while I worked for them). Eventually, I came to know Glenn from running into him every so often. He was always the first there and the last to leave. He came in when I worked–on weekends–and we had a few conversations about school in the break room and the elevators. He had so much passion for this work and sharing education with everyone that it was hard not to want to help him.
Being an admissions counselor at this school was hard. I was in a real place of transition in my life, so counseling others on their lives–hearing about their passions and tragedies–was personally affecting. I learned so much about myself, and I learned I had a real talent for getting to the heart of things with people. People opened up to me and I remember feeling like I was doing more than just education sales. I was actually changing lives. And unlike many other for-profit schools, this one was solid. My MEd degree was difficult to obtain. I learned a lot–even though I didn’t ever end up using it. But, as a for-profit school, there was a huge emphasis on sales and numbers. It rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed to contradict what I was trained to do and what Glenn wanted to do. But I understood why they had that mindset. If people didn’t enroll, there wouldn’t be a school.
We eventually parted ways. I ended up back in my original career–but more on my terms–and on a path to becoming a counselor. Glenn never knew my working there inspired this path, but I have a feeling he’d be proud. It’s pretty much the only job where I’m still friends with everyone I worked with and talk to them fairly regularly–even if it’s just on Facebook.
When I heard the news today, I genuinely felt sad–and was shocked he was 85. He didn’t look it and had more energy than most people I know. I’d heard earlier this year that the school was shutting down and wondered why. It was odd to think that our mythical man was no longer here doing something to help people live better lives. I’ll always have the utmost respect for him and will be grateful for the experience I had there during that sad, crazy time in my life.
Rest in peace, sir.