Science fiction author and aeronautical engineer Robert Heinlein said that everything is theoretically impossible until it is done.
Scientific minds like those of Heinlein and University of Findlay alumnus Zac Brown ’16 M ’19 are quite often the most ambitious, recognizing that possibilities are, in fact, endless and that dreams are attainable with the right measure of hard work, luck, and persistence.
Brown, native to the city of Findlay, is currently the Safety Manager for The McAlear Group, a nationwide manufacturing company, where he oversees the safety, environmental and health aspects of team members at three different manufacturing facilities and five distribution centers around the country. “The great, yet challenging, part of my job is teaching team members the importance of safety in the workplace,” Brown explained. “It is most rewarding when a team member truly understands why we are making a change to our production lines or creates a behavior change because they understand that it will create a safer workplace for all.”
It seems like a dream job for one who has an undergraduate degree in biology and a Master of Science in Environmental Safety and Health Management; make no mistake, however, Brown, worked extremely hard to attain his current life and “challenging, but very rewarding,” job.
Challenging, but very rewarding is an equally apt description of what his life was like as a student at UF. In short, Brown was busy. He was on both the Western and English IHSA teams. He was on the Ranch Horse Team; the club Lacrosse team; the Herpetology Club; on a research team in the microbiology department for two years; and lastly, he was in the UF American Society of Safety Professionals.
But, that’s not all.
While a student at UF, Brown also had a job at Heritage Environmental Services as a senior field chemist, working in the hazardous waste removal services, including emergency response to hazardous waste spills. “UF worked with me so I could start before even graduating,” he said. “I was able to start working full-time the spring semester of my senior year.” And the great thing, he added, was that he was able to immerse himself in a variety of sciences and settings at that job, continuing his path to wide understanding. “I was able to get experience in all different areas, such as chemical manufacturers, refineries, hospitals, airports, machine shops, universities, food manufacturers, agricultural, the construction industry and government facilities,” he disclosed. “It was [at that job] that I really got to see safety firsthand for different clients, and I was fortunate enough to come out of undergrad with my OSHA 30 hour and Confined Space Rescue Certifications which gave me a leg up.”
Brown and his wife Brandy (Smith) Brown ’16 were married in 2016 and moved to Toledo shortly thereafter. He was able to find a job in the Toledo area after earning his graduate degree, and said that, by every definition, UF readied him for the work field. “UF prepared me academically, intellectually, and socially to succeed,” he said. “I learned so much in and out of the classroom, and my varied academic pursuits allowed me to be flexible and multifaceted in my career.”
The Browns are in the process of moving to a small farm in the Toledo area, along with their three dogs and “a few horses.” Their current lives, which may very well have seemed impossible to them while they were younger and immersed in the studying, working, and busyness of life as UF students, include traveling the world, showing horses, and spending time with friends and family. It’s a pretty terrific life for Brown, who said he and his wife visit Findlay regularly and remain engaged with UF whenever possible; and UF, according to him, had a lot to do with it. “I was able to meet some of my closest friends, explore opportunities and have a lot of fun along the way. UF exceeded all my expectations.”
As for making the theoretically impossible possible, Brown said, “nothing replaces the value of hard work. Do not ever stop chasing your dream job; you will get there even if it seems far away; and sometimes it will happen quicker than you think.”