As paths go, it was a “winding” one that led David McCallum back to Macomb after his first unsuccessful try following post high school-receipt of a G.E.D. The second time around, however, he has earned certificates in Manufacturing Essentials and CATIA, computer aided design (CAD) and manufacturing software, and will complete his associate degree in mathematics in May with a 3.96 grade point average.
“I have experienced that a life after addiction is possible,” says McCallum, who is marking the fourth year in recovery after being addicted to alcohol and prescribed opioids since high school. “The reality of substance abuse is that it is a treatable disease, not a moral failing. I believe supporting people in recovery is not helping bad people become good, but helping sick people get better.”
His own recovery led him to Macomb’s M-TEC, which offers short-term Workforce and Continuing Education training. From there, McCallum was hired by Custom Biogenic Systems, where he uses his CAD knowledge to assist in the design of climate-sensitive containers used by scientific and research laboratories.
“My completion of the certificate program at M-TEC qualified me for an entry-level engineering role as a CAD technician,” relates McCallum. “My employer provided tuition assistance and encouraged me to seek a degree program at Macomb that would lead to a mechanical engineering path.”
That path led McCallum to Oakland University (OU), where he is the first recipient of its Frontline Workers Scholarship, receiving a Presidential Transfer Award as well.
“With the scholarships I have been awarded, in addition to my employer’s help,” says McCallum, “I have an amazing opportunity to continue my education at OU debt free.”
McCallum appreciates that his math professors “have been very thorough and created an atmosphere for me to succeed.” He calls out Dave Friday, his calculus professor, and Leanna Allvin, Special Services counselor, for also making his experience at Macomb a positive one. Since the college shutdown, all of McCallum’s classes have been online. And while he feared online learning might make his life difficult, with the help of tutors, he found the opposite true instead.
“I am glad that so many virtual classes are offered online,” he says. “The flexibility has made it easier for me to work full-time while continuing my education.”
McCallum’s path straightened at Custom Biogenic Systems, where he hopes to obtain an engineering position once he completes his bachelor’s degree. And he appreciates the guideposts provided by education, exercise, meditation and reading that helped get him there.
“With completion of my associate degree in sight, along with a transfer plan at OU,” says McCallum, “I have the foundation for a career path I am really looking forward to.”