Zachary Greenwood Living the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge & Making mrW Proud
Last week at the office we got a package from Seattle. The box contained surplus merchandise that hadn’t been sold during the Dirty Talk with Mike Rowe performance last month. Among the hats, posters, and totes there was an envelope addressed to Mike Rowe. Inside was a two page hand written letter from Nicholas Greenwood.
Nick was writing Mike to thank him for the work ethic scholarship mikeroweWORKS awarded to his brother, Zachary. In fact, Nick only came to the show because his brother Zack is such a huge fan of Mike. Nick went to the merchandise table and asked the guy working there if he could get his letter to Mike. The merch guy made no promises but took the letter. “I’ll see what I can do.”
What he did was put the letter in the box of unsold merchandise, which made its way to me, and ultimately to Mike. So, I decided to contact Zack and learn his story. Here’s what I found…
Growing up, Zachary always knew that he wanted to work with his hands. But he also knew that he had to go to college. He knew this because that’s what everyone told him – Especially his dad. Dad’s rule: “If you’re not a full-time student, you can’t live under my roof.” Mr. Greenwood defined “full-time student” as taking at least 12 credit hours each semester. Zack understood dad’s rule, and he agreed to abide by it.
So, after graduating Goodyear, Arizona’s Millennium High School Class of ‘04, Zack enrolled in nearby Estrella Mountain Community College, making sure he had at least 12 credits on his plate. He chose a liberal arts track. Why? Why not? “I’m interested in way too many things.”
Zack’s interests changed quickly, and so did his school. What didn’t change was his desire to pay no more than $78 dollars per credit. He transferred to Glendale C.C. to study audio technology. Then he was on to fire science technology. Zack felt pretty confident that this major was going to stick. Arizona has a huge demand for firefighters; however the supply of people interested in becoming firefighters is even huger. But a degree in fire science technology can make you stand out among the competition.
At the same time Zack was studying the science of fire, he was working at the arena where the Phoenix Coyotes played. Zack was part of the Conversions team, responsible for turning the arena from a sports venue to a concert venue, and then back again. It was a good job, and Zack was good at it. His responsibilities grew. More hours were required. More hours meant more money. More money was good, but something had to give. That something turned out to be his classes at G.C.C.
The next semester Zach cut back. He wasn’t giving up on his degree; he was simply choosing to make more money while pursuing it. But Zach was still living under his dad’s roof. And when he realized that he was only taking 9 credit hours he had a decision to make – take more classes and live rent-free, or make more money and live on his own. He respected dad’s rule, and in 2006 he moved out.
Zack soon discovered that living outside the nest comes with a price tag. Rent’s not cheap. He lived with 3 roommates. They were all full-time students at Universal Technical Institute. He was working at the arena and attending Glendale C.C. part-time. The rudest awakening was when Zach realized that not living at home meant not being eligible for his dad’s health insurance. The only solution was for him to work full-time at the arena, and that meant bye-bye school.
Over the next 8 years, Zach continued to work in operations and conversions at different arenas in different states. But he always felt like he was just keeping his head above water. There was no room for advancement. “The only way to get a promotion is if someone above you retires or dies.”
The tipping point was when Zach and his wife found out they were expecting a child. “I needed a job that would provide enough money to support a family.” One night, while surfing mikeroweWORKS.org, he came across a video of guy in Mesa, Arizona who worked for Caterpillar Inc.. He was working on heavy equipment and talked about how good the money was. Zack was skeptical, so he asked around. He spoke to his cousin, his uncle, and even his old roommates, all of whom made their livings while getting their hands dirty. They all told him the same thing; yes, you can support a family working with your hands. Zack was convinced, and one month later he had a scholarship and an acceptance letter.
Zack is using his work ethic scholarship to study Diesel Technology and Power Generation at Universal Technical Institute at Avondale where he plans to graduate April 28th. Zack has a perfect attendance record and 3 Student of Courses awards, meaning he got the best grades in all of his courses. It’s a pretty amazing feat considering Zack works the graveyard shift at Goodyear Airport until 5 AM and still makes it to class by 7:30 AM. That is nose-to-the-grindstone, dedicated work ethic indeed.
Thanks Zack, for living the S.W.E.A.T pledge, and making mikeroweWORKS look so good. And a big thank you to your brother, Nick, for writing that letter.
PS. Zack has recently started competing in beard and mustache competitions. You know, in all his spare time.