Who Changed Your Life?

At some point, most people have been able to look back at their lives and pick out one person (or maybe a group of people) that started you down the path into the person you are today. I’ll briefly share my person, but then I ask that you share your own. Many people might say, “my mom and dad” but that’s not the answer I’m looking for here…unless they happened to be the most significant person(s) that reshaped your life. Just really try to think about a single person that changed how you viewed life, or perhaps took a risk by hiring you and it launched a great career years down the road.

For me it was guy I met in high school named Billy Wiseman. He ended up being my best friend through my last two years of school. Before I had met Billy, I was a very introverted kid. I always got picked on. I was always made fun of. In middle school, I also had a few kids that would knock books out of my hand, steal my backpack and runaway with it, and I even had my head shoved into a locker in gym class and the door slammed on it…twice! In high school, I started getting picked on because I had begun losing some of my hair in the back at age 15. I also didn’t have many friends and you would NEVER dare to see me stand in front of classroom of people and speak.

However, that all changed when I started hanging out with Billy. One day, I overheard, that he couldn’t take the bus anymore to school and needed a ride. I just happened to have a car and offered to drive him. He accepted. He knew I wasn’t the most popular person in school but it didn’t matter to him…he was just a nice guy. Billy also didn’t care what others thought about him…he said what he said and did what did because HE wanted to…not because of what others thought. That attitude actually helped him out in school and others respected that and he was well liked because of it…and popular.

That same attitude rubbed off on me in those last two years of school. By the time I went to college I was a completely different person. My life had done a complete 180! I realized that if I truly wanted to be happy, not get picked on, not be bossed around, not always having to worry about what others thought about me, then I had to accept the things that I had always seen as my faults and, instead, turn them into “this is just me–accept it or don’t.”

So the person that changed my life was Billy. Certainly my parents had a strong influence on me and my grounding in life, but it’s that one person that changed the way I viewed myself and helped me to be a stronger person than what I was before.

Your turn.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Jane and Fred Vallier – college professors. Jane taught a semantics class that made me see the world in an entirely way – the world of words, how they come to be, the power in slight tweaks to evoke new or multiple meanings. I already enjoyed reading and writing, but Jane’s mentorship inspired me to take that interest in other directions like poetry and spoken word. In addition, her husband Fred is one of the most creative people I know…and they’ve not done too bad with their sons either. Their impact is lasting…and I’m grateful

Candace Riddle

Tina Borger via Sterling Whitehead – I found her here on GovLoop when Sterling introduced us, and she volunteered to mentor me long distance. I had been unemployed for over 18 months, after losing my job in the during the financial crisis of 08-09. I had a train wreck for a resume (real estate agent, paralegal, financial advisor), and I wanted to work in acquisitions. When nobody else would take the risk to hire me, Tina, and NIGP did. Almost 2 years later I have finished my Masters degree, am leading an international project in public procurement, and am planning to work in South Korea for a while next April. I’m finally getting to work in the international field and combine past skills from previous jobs, as well as my education into one job! It’s AWESOME…and it is all because Tina stepped out and believed in me when no body else would.

Monali Patel

I like Candace’s story! While I’m currently employed as an Analyst with the gov, I have yet to find someone who is interested in my complete background (in law and teaching, in addition to my MSHR), to help me find the best fit…I currently commute several hours a week to do a job that only considers one small fraction of my skill sets…so Candace, you are very fortunate!


Monali – make sure to sign up for our next round of GovLoop Mentors programs – mentors.govloop.com

Me – 8th grade. New kid to the school. Sitting by myself. When my buddy Phil said to come sit at his table. The leap from 0 to 1 friend was key. He gave me a dub copy of Dr Dre The Chronice. Introduced me to golf and from then on our lives had a parallel path (we both married professors, etc)

Scott Horvath

Candace — You are very lucky that someone decided to take a risk with you…and apparently they made a good decision because it sounds like that risk is what has changed your life.

Steve — When someone gives you a copy of The Chronic, I think you’re indebted to that person for life 😉 That’s awesome! I think an important takeaway from yours is that it just took one person to make a decision and take a chance which, in turn, made a difference in another persons life. You might have gotten a dub copy of some music…but that was just an ice breaker…one that made you feel less like a new kid and sent you down the path of a strong friendship. Just took one person.

Andrew — What I like about your story is that it shows how a teacher really can make a difference. It’s not always “mom and dad” that make the difference in someone’s life…it’s sometimes just a great teacher that can have a lasting impact.

Great stories everyone…keep ’em coming!

Monali Patel

Steve, I signed up for the mentoring….I moved in 8th grade, too, so i should give credit to my friends Meg and Ginger who helped me build a circle of friends that were very supportive….but no one has given me anything by Dr. Dre:)