Congratulations to the 2021-22 CGAEF $10,000 Legends of the Industry College Scholarship recipient, Michael Weir, Assistant Store Manager of Smart & Final Stores in Bakersfield, CA. Michael is the fourth recipient of the unique scholarship established to both honor past grocery industry legends and to recognize up-and-coming grocery leaders.
“I cannot express how grateful I am. The costs associated with going to college are terrible and only getting worse, and this will make a massive dent in it. Normally I am a little bit more expressive but I think I’m still in shock 🙂 But I wanted to make sure I expressed my gratitude to you, and I’d appreciate it if you would pass my gratitude on to the other judges. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
-Michael Weir, on learning of his $10,000 scholarship award
I was born and raised in California and came from a very blue collar family. My parents both worked retail jobs to support us as I was growing up. They had their high school degrees but no college schooling. So, following their model, I immediately got a job when I graduated high school in 2003. However, it was evident to me after a few years that this was probably a big mistake. The circumstances of the changing economy made me realize that I needed more skills and more knowledge to be very successful.
In 2012 I enrolled in college at California State University, Bakersfield. It quickly became apparent that college was drastically different for someone like me, what people call a “nontraditional student.” While most college students are 18-19 years old when they enter, I was 26. I was working, attending part time, married, and starting a family.
Being a nontraditional student is a very unique experience. Many students are involved in campus sports, or marching band, or Greek life. I don’t have the time for these as I usually head straight home after class to spend time with my kids or to get ready for work. On my lunch breaks I often seek solitude in my car so I can study for a few minutes. I can recall e-mailing my notes to myself, then pulling them up on my phone and studying them while I was baling cardboard for the night crew in the early mornings. It requires an extraordinary amount of physical and mental endurance (and coffee) as well as discipline, which is mostly learned through trial and error. It can be very stressful as well, as you often feel you don’t have enough time for yourself. Between a stressful job, stressful school assignments, and the endless chaos of raising two little boys, you don’t end up having much time. It is difficult to find a couple hours a week to play video games or hockey like I used to. However, I know that this is worth it in the end. It will give my sons something to be proud of and, most of all, give myself something to be proud of when I finally accept that bachelor’s degree on the stage.
For information on the $10,000 Legends of the Industry Scholarship and the CGAEF Scholarship Endowment by which the award is possible, click here.
Michael’s story will be featured in California Grocer magazine in September.