Facing death when you have so much to live for, can quite certainly change your life perspective. You can either allow the negativity to wash over or you can fight to find the positives so you can forge ahead.
Each of us find our own obstacles that interfere with our life goals. How we handle these obstacles and persevere will define what successes lies ahead.
Timothy Brown, a Networking Academy student from Arizona shares his perspective on how a debilitating illness impacted his pursuit of education and career aspirations.
“There’s something to be said about the resilience of the human spirit during times of struggle.”
“After becoming so ill, I could no longer work. I slowly started to become discouraged and overwhelmed with grief and despair. At first, depression sat in and I started losing hope for a better tomorrow or future. Eventually, after almost dying, I realized that if I was going to survive and live the best life I could with what time I had left, then I had to find my true, life purpose for being alive.”
From Baking to Cybersecurity
In 2019, Timothy graduated from Northern Arizona University (NAU) with his bachelor’s degree in Technology Management, with a focus on cybersecurity. The year prior he received his associates of arts degree in Education as well as an associate of applied science degree in cybersecurity from Estrella Mountain Community College. But before he enrolled in these degree programs, he had ventured quite the unique path.
His interest in tech started very early in life; he attended a military school in lieu of a traditional high school, where he was exposed to technology and it spiked his interest. While in high school, he transitioned to working at his parents’ bakery, which provided bagels to a lot of military bases and local grocery stores. Eventually working his way up to being General Manager.
Living near a military base and having gone to a military school, Timothy naturally gravitated to join the United States Marine corps, where he did one tour (four years of service). This was where he was trained on newly developed systems being integrated into the military. And was nominated to be the person who would provide training as well as support to the entire battalion.
Post-military, he continued his training and worked up the ladder at local tech companies until medical complications forced him to stop working.
Finding his Way Back
One of the core lessons Timothy learned as he dealt with his rare autoimmune disorder, was that it was okay to allow himself to feel bad during the moments he was not feeling great. But then after that moment passed, he had to come back with a plan on how to approach whatever it was or was in the middle of doing. As a single-Dad he wanted to also set a positive example. “There’s something to be said about the resilience of the human spirit during times of struggle.”
Timothy took it one step at a time, so as to not overwhelm himself. By creating smaller, more attainable plans or goals, he was able to keep focused and feel positive about his progress.
“When your body gives way to illness you slowly lose faith in your skills, abilities, and knowledge, which ultimately leads to depression and lowered self-esteem. This is why it is absolutely critical to believe in yourself during these difficult times by maintaining a positive mindset by keeping yourself constantly challenged. Challenging myself to believe I could always do more helped me to transition to living life actively, instead of reactively. Each accomplishment, no matter how small, opened my eyes to the many possibilities. Which greatly improved my attitude, while making it slightly easier to accept change that was outside of my control.”
“Going back to school was my initial goal because I knew I wanted to build a solid foundation that would elevate my mental capacity and understanding. Not to mention, it was a life dream, and something I wanted to achieve. And I am very proud to be the first of my family to do so. Now that I am not in school full time, I have come to realize that I had actually made learning my personal therapy.”
Learning became the way he stayed positively charged. He kept himself focused on learning and understanding. One of the things Networking Academy taught him, was that “no matter how complex it may seem at that time, it can be learned. Understand how it works and then you can master it.”
His drive to learn and stay focused was not missed by his Networking Academy instructors, and he was nominated to be a part of a Cisco Dream Team for Cisco Live! in Las Vegas. “The experience itself was something I’ll never forget.” Though he was not sure if he could keep up because of his health, he still participated and surprised himself by how much he was able to accomplish during this project. Though he thought it was intimidating, in reality it was an invigorating opportunity.
Adapting his Journey for his Needs
Due to his health, he could not get back into a tech job as he originally had planned upon graduation from NAU. “After finishing all my schooling and getting my certifications, I got even sicker. I didn’t allow that to get me either. Though it did knock me off my course.”
“I thought to myself, that I am going to try to get back into IT, any way I can. This way I can still be challenged and active. What I did was create a web development company. It is not networking, but I found that a lot of the tools I learned through NetAcad, because it was so complex, it made this easy.”
Timothy had to adapt and pivot his course many times through his journey. He took an entrepreneurial action, creating a business to keep himself engaged and focused. In addition to the web development company, he is also working with a venture company in San Diego to develop a new app that is designed to help those living in the community thrive.