What If

By George Nicolopoulos
Assistant Professor, Computer Information Technology

“Hi, my name is Joe. I’m your new student. Where can I sit?”

“In the front of course.”

Lesson one begins.

I asked the class, “What if nothing stood in your way.  There was no chance that you would fail what would you do. What if everything you learn over the next two years will make you a millionaire. What would it take to give 100% effort?”

I survey the class. Every student says they would study like their life depended on it. I wonder to myself how many will and how many won’t. How many can see what if.  Joe does 100 % of the homework with a vengeance. Joe has a wife and a son while living with his uncle and aunt. No Job, no real home.

HIs first job while in school: tech support for the campus. Paid and he could study some of the time. Second job: IT Support for Gorno Ford. Paid even better and he could study some of the time.

Graduation comes. The career services director Sheila asks me to recommend a speaker. I grab the Crain’s Business Weekly. Xoran, a new company out of Ann Arbor, was on the cover. “Oh look the owner’s name is even George.”

The week before graduation George asks Sheila for the resume of our 12 best students. I recommended 12 students but not Joe. Total confusion in her eyes.

Sheila asks “He’s our best student. Why not Joe?” I said, “Set an email to go out the Monday after graduation at 8 am.”

At graduation 4 awards were given out by George to Joe. One was given out by the director and all went to Joe. With Monday comes the demand for Joe’s resume. Sheila tells him to check his email, followed by an immediate interview and hire.

Nothing but smiles on my face, like the cat in Alice.

Joe comes back with a gleam in his eye.  “I got the job!”

“Joe this is the job you will have the rest of your life. In ten years you’ll be a partner.” He laughs. “Not going to happen. Anna wants to have land and go someplace warm.”

Nine years pass. I’m at his house for dinner eating a beautiful steak. Did I say it was beautiful?

Halfway through the meal, he pushes an inch thick pile of papers over to me.

“You were wrong about just one thing it only took nine years.”