By Nick Skully
Nick is a mortgage banking intern. He served one internship at the Quicken Loans headquarters in Livonia, Mich., and has headed back to Cleveland for a second internship.
I did not have to look long, or far, when thinking of a person that truly exemplifies “THE DIFF.” The person who is a difference-maker to me is my best friend, Tim Paoli. While you may not know him, I am positive that you know a person like him.
He is a person who has overcome obstacles and adversity his whole life, and has helped me to be thankful for what I have. He gives me the extra push to go out and work hard to achieve my dreams. I grew up with my best friend in Cleveland, Ohio, and from the first day I met him, we just connected because we were so similar. We have been close friends ever since. He was less fortunate than me and most people around us, but he has the drive and determination to accomplish everything he wants.
While most kids our age were out playing sports or just clowning around, he was working to help provide for his mother and little brothers. While we were leaving basketball practice in middle school to head home, he was leaving to head to work until midnight. When he was thrown through a windshield and almost died in a car accident one spring night, we were there. But he told us we didn’t have to visit him so much in the hospital… that he was upset he missed our basketball tournament victory… and he made us smile.
High school provided more memories that we will all cherish for a lifetime. While most students were ready to head off to college, he was enlisting because he did not have a college scholarship or the luxury of parents who could afford to pay for college. So, in between long hours of work-life and tours of duty to many dangerous parts of the world, he found time to pursue his goals. He never strayed from them, and earned his college degree. He could have given up or taken the easy way out. But he refused to let himself do so. While many of us were out partying and having fun with friends at college, he was up all night studying, trying to balance his two lives. And while it was not easy, nothing in life that is worthwhile ever is.
And while this may come off as a sad story, I assure you it is exactly the opposite. It is a story of determination and overcoming obstacles. It is a story of creating goals and achieving them, no matter how hard or unconventional the path may be. My best friend is now set to graduate with his MBA in the spring. He has a great job in the heart of Boston, and has a bright future ahead of him. And while he is no longer just a street away, but rather several states, we still talk to each other almost every day. When I am having a bad day or questioning what lies ahead in my future, he is always there to provide me with a boost of confidence and let me know that I can achieve anything that I want to if I am willing to work at it. I look up to him and take to heart everything that he has to say because he has lived it and is the hardest worker that I have ever met.
There are going to be tough or slow times, where things may be harder than you initially anticipated; instances where you must dig deep to get through the day to accomplish the bigger picture for yourself. I hope to one day stand on the “mountain of success” and look down at the road it took and know that I persevered through the good and the bad. Even though it is not easy, standing on the top makes it all worth it. And I know my best friend will be right there at the top with me.