Two teachers - Dieruff High School chemistry teacher Paul McHugh and NCC chemistry professor William Magilton - made all the difference in the world to Eder Florian.
When Florian was struggling with his coursework in his junior year of high school, McHugh gave him the book that he, himself, has used during his college years. At the time, Florian - who hails from Guatemala and who came to the U.S. in 2002 - understood only about 25 percent of what McHugh was explaining to the class. "Read this book, and you'll succeed," he told Florian.
"I finished his class with an A," recalls Florian. ""I translated something he wrote at the front of the book: 'Success is not based on what you have in life, but how you got there'. That inspired a little spark inside of me."
The rest of Florian's family over time came to the U.S. while he worked, giving his siblings the opportunity to get an education while he earned money to support them. When he started at NCC in 2011, the spark that never died inside of him became a flame under Magilton's guidance.
"Professor Magilton spun my head about 360 degrees and made me see that everything revolves around chemistry. He became the person to go to, to prove if what you want is real," said Florian. ""You must prove it to him throughout the entire course. From the minute you walk into his classes, you work. There is no slacking. He wants to see results and he wants to see you succeed."
Florian's younger sister passed through Magilton's classroom as a Chemical Engineering major, and another is just starting as a Biotechnology major. Seeing three of her five children getting a college education is a blessing for Florian's mother, but what makes the entire family even more grateful is that NCC has become like a home for them.
"We actually moved closer to the college because we wanted to be here more," explained Florian, who has been using the additional time on campus to help other students who are struggling with their coursework. "I used to wonder, what is it that students do all day at school? I tutor people because of how Professor Magilton has inspired me. I work two chapters ahead so I can help others, because I don't want them to struggle the way that I did."
And what does Florian envision for his future career? Most chemists desire to work in a lab or for a well-known company. Florian sees only one path for his future: NCC chemistry professor.
"If I can inspire an entire classroom the way that Professor Magilton did for me...and if that person can then go out and impact someone else's future...I think that's how the world becomes a better place," said Florian. "I want to come back and find someone like myself, and I want to challenge them and show them what they can become if they put their heart, their head and their dreams together."
Name: Eder Florian
Projected Graduation Date: 2013