“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

UCF Vigil

By this time everyone in our college, the University, and our community is aware of the tragic event that took place at Pulse this weekend. We’ve also seen the outpouring of support in our city and on our campus. People are donating blood in record numbers. Restaurants and bars are feeding people and providing water. There’s a Kickstarter campaign that will eventually provide millions of dollars in support to the victims’ families.

On Monday I learned that one of the victims was a pre-Finance major in our college. Juan Ramon Guerrero. He transferred to UCF last Spring so I looked through my grades to see if he was in my class. For 15 minutes I thought he was. My heart sank and my stomach churned. I almost threw up and then I teared up. Then I looked again and realized it wasn’t his name on my grade sheet. I’d made a mistake.


The thought of one of my students having their life cut short like that was something I never want to feel again. It was awful. But I also realize that even though he wasn’t my student, he was someone’s student. The victims are all “someone’s.” Someone’s brother. Someone’s sister. Someone’s child. Someone’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend.


And that brings me back to support. One of the most basic objectives of the career development classes is engagement. I obviously want students to be engaged in their career search. But I also want them to be engaged with professional business people, their community, the college, and each other. In business we call this networking. But in life it’s simply helping. It’s being conscious of those around you and lending a hand when needed.

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Last night the UCF Student Union was filled with students, faculty, staff and members of the community who needed each other. For each person in the Union, everyone else there was a helper. Just like the people at Bullitt Bar that brought cases of water to Pulse for the first responders. Just like the people at Chick-Fil-A that brought food to blood donors. Just like the brave survivors of Saturday’s attack who carried out the wounded or shielded them with their bodies.


In business, support / helping / networking is just another way to say you are engaged with your work, company and co-workers. That’s the kind of business people we want to shape in our college. The kind who will reach out to a colleague to mentor them, pitch in on a project, or at least smile and hold the door for someone behind them. The kind who will volunteer in their community and respond to tragic events. The kind who help.

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The pictures from last night’s UCF Vigil make me proud of my students, proud of UCF, and proud of my community.