Claude Caldarescu

Claude Caldarescu

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Back in 2000, something happened to me.  I could still remember it like it was just yesterday.  I’m just waking up, laying in my bed when the strangest thing happened.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  Out of nowhere a question came to me.  WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?  Oh yea, did I mention it was my birthday?  That’s right, there I was, a twenty three year old  experiencing one of those moments.  You know, one of those life changing moments that until that morning, I had never experienced.

Now I have to admit, I don’t have one of those stories about being involved with drugs, being depressed, or being unhappy with my life.  No, it’s just the opposite.  I was doing alright for myself at that stage in my life.  I was comfortable.  I was a pretty happy person, a pretty good full-time job that paid me enough to have my own place and get whatever I needed at the time, I was taking classes at a local community college.  I seemed to have as much, if not more, than most of my friends.  You know, I was comfortable.  Oh wow, there’s that word again!

With all that being said, however, the question still came.   Don’t know why, but there I was, faced with one of the hardest questions I ever has to answer to that point in my life.  And you know what?  I didn’t have an answer.  I just knew that I wasn’t living up to my full potential.  That morning began a very interesting chain of events for me.  But I don’t believe that I would be here today, doing what I’m doing, if it wasn’t for that one morning in my life, the morning of my twenty third birthday.

Since that morning I have been working very hard to answer that question, and I have had to  make some very tough decisions to get me to this point.   That morning, I had to get honest about my feelings and figure out what drove me,  where I wanted to go,  and what I wanted to do with my life.

Thus I found myself making the first big decision in my life.  I’m not exactly sure why to this day, but something told me to drop everything I was doing, and enlist in the Air Force.  I wasn’t sure why, but I knew that if I was ever going to do anything with my life, I had to get away in order to get a fresh perspective.   One thing you have to understand about me though is that prior to that day, I  never gave the military any serious thought.  I had some friends that spoke about the military back in high school, and a few of them actually joined.  But not me, that wasn’t for me.  One of the biggest reasons that my family moved my brother and I to America was so we would not be drafted in the military back in our home country.

But I knew I had to do something.    I knew that I had an interest in airplanes so I thought that the Air Force would be a good fit for me.  I also knew that I would have to start taking my education more seriously.  Education was going to be the key for me to get to where I wanted to be.

So I quit my job, broke the news to my mom and closest friends, and I enlisted.   I finally had a plan and I somehow knew I had to take that huge step at that point in my life.  A couple of months later, I found myself on a plane to San Antonio Texas.  That’s right, I was on my way to the Air Force basic training.

Fast forward four years later.   I was honorably discharged with enough aeronautics experience to be able to get my FAA A&P license when I got back home, and I am also proud to say that I also completed my bachelors of science degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  That’s right, I was able to attend a local college near the base on my off-time and obtained my degree .  What a difference four years made.  And the best part is that it was completely paid for.  No college debt.

This was the first of a few  big decisions that I have had to make in my life.  That one decision involved me leaving my comfort zone, quitting my job, leaving my friends and family, and beginning something brand new in a place I had never been, and all of that was pretty scary, but at the same time  it was necessary in order for me to make  changes for myself to better my life.

So I was now a college graduate with an A&P license working in the Aerospace industry.  I guess I could have just been happy with these great accomplishments.   I had a respectable full-time job and was working in the industry I really enjoyed.

But I didn’t feel complete just yet.  For as long back as I could remember, I always had an interest in mechanics and engineering.  But I never thought that I would become an engineer.  I was only ok at math (only completing college algebra at that point) and science wasn’t exactly a strong subject for me.  But I was very lucky to have someone in my life who kept pushing me to follow my dreams and never settle.

So in 2012, at age 35, it happened again.  I quit my full-time job and applied for financial aid.  That’s right, I was going back to school to pursue a second degree, this time at California State University, Northridge.  It took four long years, but in 2016 I graduated with my second bachelor’s of science degree, this time in Mechanical Engineering.

I finally made it, I am exactly what I wanted to be in this world.  I now have a great engineering job and can finally say that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing in this world.  And it only took me 16 years of my life to get me to this point, from that one life changing morning in 2000.