By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend
Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world! We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.
Today, we’d like you to meet Josh Fitzgerald:
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Vowinckel, Pennsylvania
On shifting careers: I graduated from Clarion University with a degree in Secondary Education Mathematics and briefly worked as a high school mathematics teacher. I quickly found out that I didn’t enjoy it. I knew I wanted to do something with math and science, and I’ve always been curious about how things work. Mechanical Engineering seemed like a good fit, but just to be sure, I did some job shadowing at an engineering firm first. After a few days, I was sold.
Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Maintaining the grades that I have while also working an internship as a married adult.
Musically inclined: I play a plethora of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, drums, and bass guitar, without any ability whatsoever to read sheet music.
On unique gifts: I’ve nearly mastered the art of selective hearing, which I’m pretty sure my wife would vouch for.
What you’d be surprised to know about him: I’m an adult student. Although I may appear child-like in demeanor, that’s only because I’m still twelve years old on the inside. A wise professor once told me, “You only get to be young once, but you can be immature forever.”
Manners never go out of style: I’m very passionate about being a good, decent, honest person. There are far too many inconsiderate people in the world today. Using manners, being polite, and respecting people should never been viewed as old-fashioned or outdated.
On being a self-made man: I’ve learned to value the things I own because I’ve worked hard to earn them. The same can be said for my education. I worked to excel in my classes and it’s paid off.
On using your gifts: My favorite quote is: “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” It’s not part of an elaborate speech by a politician, or a Biblical proverb, or even sage-like advice from Gandhi. Rather, it’s a quote by Mewtwo from the original Pokemon movie. Nonetheless, it is some of the soundest logic I’ve ever heard. I came from very humble beginnings. It didn’t matter that my family didn’t have a lot of money, what color my skin was, or what my religious beliefs were. It’s what I’ve done with the blessing of existence that truly matters.
Advice for current students: Be open to life’s adventures. If someone told me a five years ago that I’d be where I am today, I would’ve thought they were crazy. I was dead set on being a great high school math teacher. Then reality hit me like a truck and burst my bubble. It took me some time to get over the feeling that I’d maybe wasted four years of my life earning a degree I wasn’t going to use. But, looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and maturity along the way.
Josh has accepted a position as a simulation engineer at SKF Aeroengine following his graduation in May.