When I first began working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, it was not long before I realized that I had found my career! I saw that the working conditions were good my colleagues were great and that the University was something special to be attached to. My purpose was clear, and that was to provide a clean and inviting environment for the department of General Accounting in Thalman Hall. I had an important mission that was inspiring and motivational!
I had many friends who were involved in numerous fields of work, such as insurance sales, carpet installation, accountancy, factory work and coal mining, which was a job to be desired in Southern Illinois, when I was a young man. I seemed to be one of the last of the friendship circle to secure a job whereby I could make a living. Mind you…I was not old when I was hired at SIUC…I was 20.
I truly believed that if I applied myself and worked hard…I could succeed. This was in the civil service ranks where it was widely know that you, ‘had to know somebody,’ to even, ‘get your foot in the door!’ Well I did not know anyone and no one knew me…but I had both feet all the way in the house!
The University was exciting to me and I wanted my work to be seen as accomplished by a consummate professional. I desired for my custodial efforts to be so above what the Accounting staff were accustomed to that they would say that they had a good cleaning person.
I understood that Building Services was as important to the success of SIUC as any department on campus and that it was vital to the recruitment and retention of our most precious citizens…our students!
Life at Southern Illinois University went by very rapidly because I was always immersed in the betterment and mission of the institution. Years melted away and it seemed but a month or so from one Christmas until the next…as I was involved in something that I loved!
Life is but a short succession of days…do not spend them without a mission and purpose that inspires you each morning and that you ponder when you lay your head on your pillow at night!
Now, you may ask, how could you become passionate about cleaning other people’s mess? You see, cleaning opened so many doors of opportunity to help others…that I was often overwhelmed with the purpose of accomplishing my mission!
Every time that Building Services was able to offer a part time position to one of our wonderful students…I understood that being a member of our family was enabling that student to stay in school and complete their education!
When I had the opportunity to hire a full time employee….I knew that I had played a bit part…in changing their life and the lives of their family!
Each occasion that I was blessed to be involved in the hiring of an intellectually or physically challenged individual….and to see the excitement in their eyes and the glow of joy on their face…when they realized that the door of career opportunity had opened for them….I can think of no greater feeling of peace!
As I was privileged to become involved in University governance and to be able to witness concrete positive changes for civil service staff….I was humbled and thought about the opportunity that I had been afforded.
I heard the President’s personal lawyer refer to himself as, ‘just a country lawyer.’ Indeed, although I was born in Chicago…I am a country…old man….and I began as a country boy!
‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, wither thou goest. Ecclesiastes 9:10 KJV