I’ve lived in Mount Pleasant since 2008, when I came to work for Central Michigan University. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised by a single mom in a working-class household. I’m the son and nephew of switchboard operators, welders, delivery drivers and meter readers. I didn’t grow up rich.

I’m a college professor now, but I wasn’t one of the kids that was supposed to go to college. We just didn’t have the money. I put myself through school and it took me eight years, working two and three jobs at a time. I was lucky to get scholarships and financial aid to complete my advanced degrees.

It was a long, hard road to get where I am now, but it made me who I am: A regular guy who understands what hard-working people go through to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. And I’m proud to be an American, and to live in a country where it’s possible for a person to make a better life for himself and his family.

I’ve been married to my wife, Cathy Willermet, for almost 20 years. She is also a professor at CMU. We have two sons, Pierre, who is 15 years old, and Dave, who is 13 years old. I love raising my boys here in Mount Pleasant. They did youth sports and have gone to public school here ever since kindergarten. We love camping and exploring together the wild places of this great state. We are connected to this community, and our family is rooted here.

Growing up as I did gave me a strong sense of independence and self-reliance. These are also Michigan values: You earn your keep, you don’t complain, you help people in need, and you get the job done. Rise Above — Get It Done.