Get to Know Me
When I look back upon the moment that set me on the course that has led to where I am today, it almost seems like a movie. This “moment” happened one night in 1995 when I was in the U.S. Army. I was in an infantry unit and was returning home after being in the field with my unit for nearly a month. I felt my heart swell with gratitude when I arrived home to see my wife and two children (who were 2 and 3 years old at the time) after a month of being away I was the one thought I had was being whole with my family. Well to make a long – sad – story short. As I arrived home, my wife walked out, and I have been a single parent ever since. That night I learned what it meant to be a father, the head of my family, and a man.
Now being a soldier and a single father is not the foundation of a successful career in the U.S. Army. So I was given the choice, sign over custody of my children or get out of the military. Making the obvious choice I found my days in the military were over after serving merely 6.5 years.
As I left the familiarity of the Army, I discovered some harsh realities of life. First, I thought that because I had served during the first Gulf War that I would land a decent career just because I was a Veteran. Second, I did not have a college degree but I thought my time in the military would make up for all that. Third, how hard could it be to be a single father of a son and daughter?
So – Yes I was going into this with some blind faith, grit, and determination (and being naive).
In retrospect – I cannot blame the potential employer’s responses to my exclamation that “I am a Veteran of the U.S. Army (and a single father)” was “so what”?! Reality quickly became clear to me that I needed to earn my college degree, and find a career that appealed to me, and would support my small but mighty family. So I did just that. As a working, single parent, I found a degree program that would afford me the flexibility to do all – work full time, raise two kids and complete my degree.
Going back to school presented a new set of challenges – I had not sat in ANY kind of class for nearly 15 years. I remember sitting in class the first night thinking – if this is B.S. (translates to if I cannot deal with this) I can bail and go get a beer. However – The Lord smiled on me that night! My instructor was this AWESOME career educator, who I am proud to now call my colleague and friend. He had us go around the room and introduce ourselves, say how long it had been since we had been in school, and how we were feeling at this moment in time.
Well, I can tell you that my nerves were settled as one by one each member of my class repeated exactly what I going to say. We were all in the same boat – that made me curious to stick around and see what would happen.
Well, the rest is, as they say, is history. My instructor of that first class took me under his wing and taught me how to be successful. I had always struggled in school prior to this. My instructor was the first person to recognize that I needed a little TLC and be taught how to learn. Well, I was hooked from that moment on, and my life’s mission was born in that first class. I made a vow that I would pay this forward and help as many people reach their goals/dream/desires as possible. I went to work for the school and held various leadership roles to include: Academic Success Coach, Program Manager, Full-Time Instructor, and Curriculum Manager/Designer. If you would like, take a look at my LinkedIn profile to see my career progression. http://linkedin.com/in/markricktor
As I have matured in my field the opportunity to become a coach, start my own business, and help other Veterans and Parents, became the next step in my life’s journey. I can tell you that nothing gives me greater joy than to help others who have ever had a hint of my experience. Both Veterans and Parents possess a unique set of characteristics that make them a valuable addition to any company. They just need someone to take them under my wing, give them a little TLC and point out Why, How, and What those things are. I am here to pay forward what my instructor did for me all those years ago…