Dan Blue has been on a journey. In 2001, he moved from Fayetteville, N.C. to Port Huron – a Michigan city 65 miles outside of Detroit. He settled in, worked odd jobs but never seemed to find his niche.
In the summer of 2011, Blue found work at a Port Huron recording studio, but the environment was not ideal and he wanted a change for himself and his soon-to-be newborn son. Wondering what he was going to do with his future, a friend told him about the machinist program at an organization called Focus: Hope, in Detroit. After taking a tour of the facility and learning more about the organization’s Machinist Training Institute and Earn + Learn workforce development programs, Blue enrolled.
He was ready to start the program, but had one problem – he didn’t own a vehicle and had no way to travel from Port Huron to Detroit. For the next several months Blue depended on public bus transit, leaving home at 4 a.m. to catch three different buses that would take him to Focus: Hope before his first class started at 7:15 a.m. Nothing stopped him. Not a Detroit bus strike. Nor nights at a Detroit shelter, where he stayed briefly to avoid the daily 120+ mile bus trip.
His commitment paid off. In 2012, he graduated from Focus: Hope, receiving technical training certifications and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification. Blue was also hired by Focus: Hope to be a teacher’s assistant and in 2014, he became a full-time student at Henry Ford College, where he is currently studying Advanced CNC/Machine Tool Technology.
Although he was on track to gain his education, Blue still needed financial support to help cover some of his school expenses. His mentors at Focus: Hope were familiar with SME and its work to promote advanced manufacturing technology and develop skilled workers. They encouraged him to apply for the James Harbour Memorial Scholarship, administered by the SME Education Foundation. Blue received the scholarship in June 2015 – a few months after submitting his application.
His efforts won’t stop here. Once he graduates with an associates degree this spring, Blue hopes to attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn to gain a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering. His ultimate career goal is to secure a position that allows him to work with cutting edge technologies – something where his efforts will transform the way we live. Blue’s dream job is to create and design holographic technical models, which serve as the blueprint to develop solid models.
When asked why manufacturing is important to him, Blue says: “You can see the results of what you learn immediately. You can actually hold it in your hands and say ‘I made this.’”
Blue, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Scholastic Honor Society and Sigma Alpha Pi National Society of Leadership and Success, is a great inspiration to young men and women, and his determination to secure a better life for himself and his family is to be commended.