Where were you on July 30, 1969, when Neil Armstrong made his famous statement as he planted his feet in the dusty surface of the Moon? I don’t know where I was. I was on summer recess between ninth and tenth grade, and probably had better things to do at the time than to record what I did that day.

The journalism bug had not bitten me yet.

On June 19, 2001, I witnessed another milestone — one that has a great impact on one young man’s life, if not a whole nation. Not many stories are as important as the moon landing, but smaller, less newsworthy events can be important as well.

On this day I visited with some friends at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI, who were preparing to award a scholarship to an incoming student of the hvacr program. Thanks to the generosity of the Excellence Alliance Foundation (EAF) and the many donors to this new program, it was possible for a young man from a rural community to take his first step toward his goal.

A Great Start

Dean Hopkins is the first recipient of EAF’s $2,000 scholarship program, which was formed to award as many scholarships as possible to educate the future workers in the contracting industry. EAF is an organization under the Excellence Alliance Inc. (EAI) umbrella.

Hopkins, a 2001 graduate from Chippewa High School in nearby Remus, MI, was presented a symbolic copy of the check by Mike Feutz, chairman of the FSU hvacr department, and William Elliot, founder of Elliot’s Heating & Cooling, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, a contractor-member of EAI. The complete story will appear in next week’s edition of The News.

Suffice it to say, this presentation will not make The New York Times. It may not even get much play in the local Big Rapids newspaper. But it holds a great deal of significance to the hvacr community.

You see, the EAF Scholarship represents a continued effort to make our trade more accessible to young students — and more attractive, too. It means that some students, who may be teetering on the fence, deciding on what career they wish to pursue, can get a good nudge from a monetary award.

It’s no secret that we are struggling to find ways to keep young people interested in the hvacr trade. There is no shortage of stories highlighting the negative aspects of our industry: the lack of adequate training available, the shortage of qualified instructors, long hours/low pay, blah, blah, blah.

How about some positive stories like this one? And what makes this story even more special is the recipient himself.

Hopkins doesn’t aspire to be a designer, an engineer, a project manager, a service technician, or an installer. Actually, he aspires to be all of them, wrapped up into one package. He wants to own his own business in the town where he has spent his entire life. He sees heating and cooling as a rewarding career, and one that can best be put to use in his own backyard.

This young man’s story put a smile on my face. I hope it puts a smile on yours, too.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); halljr@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 06/25/2001