By Daniel Muhire
" A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." - Colin Powell
Someone who personifies this quote is Bryan J. Belanger, Jr., the current Director of State Certification and Licensure for the SNHU School of Education. It was really encouraging to hear his story: how he was inspired by both of his parents and the way he has overcome different challenges to be where he is at right now.
As the old proverb says, “behind every successful man, there are wonderful parents.” Behind Bryan, there are wonderful parents whom he described as his strong role models. While those amazing parents didn’t manage to attend college, they did encourage Bryan to work hard, continue his education and to never stop learning.
He said: “The one message they kept telling me was that I had to go to college and never stop learning. They shared that if there was something that would limit my success, it would be not going to university.”
Bryan’s whole career has been in education. His entry into this profession is somewhat atypical. As soon as he graduated from high school, Bryan was hired to fix all the computers and technology related matters for a school district. This first assignment aligned to Bryan’s interests in computers and technology that he developed as a kid.
“We had nine schools and through that work, I fell in love with becoming a teacher and I was eventually hired to be an assistant principal at the middle school in town,” he explained.
From that point, Bryan’s career further accelerated. He became an elementary school principal for five years. This uniquely positioned him to assume his current role as Director of State Certification and Licensure at the SNHU School of Education where he teaches and oversees the teacher preparation program.
In 2019, he became the winner of the 40 Under Forty Award for his professional and volunteer accomplishments in the state of New Hampshire. He continued to credit his parents: "My mother worked her entire career as a childcare provider for over 30 years. She showed me the importance of being a strong advocate for children."
Innovation lessons for young professionals
What made Bryan stand out so that he would be recognized with such an honor? What advice would Bryan share with aspiring student innovators? I was grateful to pick Bryan’s brain and hear his thoughts. According to Bryan, young professionals need to put innovation into practice through several different ways:
Collaborate and partner. Working hand in hand with colleagues will boost the performance of teams and individuals.
Engage in volunteer activities and community services. This might involve participating in rotary clubs, providing humanitarian services and encouraging high ethical standards in the community.
Be sure of your passion. You will have to ask yourself the things that make you happy and you will have to follow that call regardless.
Work hard and increase your connection. “You need to do both. You need to know people, and you need to go out there and show them what you can do at the same time,” he explained.
I was inspired to hear Bryan’s engaging story. I learned a great deal from his experiences, particularly around how he chose his profession and the value of having a mindset of continuous learning and networking. This advice is particularly applicable as I pursue my interests around education.
Bryan encouraged me and other young professionals with the similar interests to pursue our passions and persevere regardless of the challenges. “Every person, every lesson, every challenge and every success has a purpose. Keep going,” he said.
I also learned from him that we have to engage in volunteering for the sake of the community and our personal benefits. Through volunteering, you gain experiences in your domain and get the chance to connect with different people. I plan to apply this advice by continuing my volunteer activity of teaching physics in the community.
In doing this and in the course of pursuing other goals, I will remember Bryan’s words: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Daniel Muhire is a Southern New Hampshire University Student who is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Management with a concentration in Logistics and Operations.
Connect with him on LinkedIn. He wrote this story after going through the Global Innovators Academy Interview an Innovator experience.