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MC grad overcomes rocky start to discover career successSeptember 05, 2018

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Zach Neuser

He graduated from Midland College (MC) in August of 2016 with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and now Zach Neuser is attending the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) and is still maintaining that 4.0 GPA.  However, excellent grades and a drive for success weren’t always the case for the 24-year-old Midland native.

“I attended Lee High School, and when I actually was in class, I wasn’t a very good student,” explained Neuser.  “I transferred to Coleman High School in March of my senior year and actually graduated from Coleman.  Then, I enrolled in Midland College and flunked out.”

Two years later in 2014, Neuser went back to Midland College and decided that it was time to get serious about his future.  He started slowly at first, only taking 7 semester credit hours; however, Neuser’s passion and drive to be successful soon became a dominating force in his life, and he progressed to 18 semester credit hours, while still maintaining a full-time job.

“I’ve been working since I was 14, mainly in the restaurant industry,” said Neuser.  “However, as was the case for everything that I did during the first 20 years of my life, I never attempted to be successful at my career.  In fact, I actually never kept a job for more than 6 months.  I think I’ve worked at almost every restaurant in town!”

Neuser said that his last restaurant job experience was his most rewarding.  He was working at Harvest Café washing dishes when he met staff from The Springboard Center.

“Employees who worked at The Springboard Center ate at Harvest Café quite often,” stated Neuser.  “I was interested in getting to know about their jobs because I was taking classes at Midland College in the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling program.  The Café was closing down and when the staff at Springboard heard about this, they offered me an entry level position in direct care.  By that time, I was going to college full-time, but that didn’t stop me from accepting a full-time job.  I just made up my mind that I could do both.  Soon, in addition to responsibilities as a recovery tech, I helped to open Springboard’s first sober living home as the house manager.”

In August 2016, Neuser graduated from Midland College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling and, after spending another semester at MC taking a few classes, he enrolled in classes at UTPB working toward a Bachelor of Business Administration degree majoring in Management.  He has been taking 18-21 hours per semester while working full-time at The Springboard Center.  He is scheduled to graduate this December.

At The Springboard Center, Neuser was soon promoted to compliance manager, a position that he held for two years.  During that time, he rebuilt the center’s quality assurance program, coordinated regulatory compliance, authored the policies and procedures manual for the sober living program, negotiated insurance contracts and wrote grants. He also held the title of sober living coordinator, managing seven management level employees overseeing 43 residents while maintaining his responsibilities as compliance manager.

This past April, Neuser transitioned into his current position as director of Admissions.  In this capacity he oversees admissions for all of the clinical and medical programs, manages the sober living program and facilitates The Springboard Center’s website and social media presence.  He is also collaborating with the center’s Executive Director, Stephanie Schoen-Orr, to develop statewide marketing campaigns to continue to expand Springboard’s presence.

“All of my experiences at The Springboard Center have helped me decide on the focus of my career,” said Neuser.  “I love the aspect of working in health care and helping clients, but I soon found out that counseling wasn’t going to be a good fit for me.  My strengths and talents lie more in the management sector.”

Zach Neuser is determined to continue to excel in his career.  He has been accepted into the Rice University MBA program and has also applied to several MBA programs including Harvard, Baylor, Carnegie Mellon and Pepperdine. 

While Neuser’s future definitely looks bright, his past was far from idyllic.  His mother was an alcoholic, and his parents had a troubled marriage, so for the first 7 years of his life, he lived with his grandmother.   When Zach was 9, his mother passed away from alcohol poisoning.  He has 13 half- brothers and sisters.  He is only the second person in his immediate family to get a college degree.  Neither of his parents had degrees and only one of his siblings, his brother Stephen, has a college degree. 

“My father was disabled, and we pretty much lived on welfare,” explained Neuser.  “However, my dad taught me important lessons about how to be a good human being—to be kind, have integrity, have manners, work hard, etc.—and those lessons have stuck with me.”

Neuser said that in 2014, after he decided to “get his life together,” he began to focus on his spirituality, work and school.  He balances the intensity of working full time and taking 18+ semester credit hours by “taking a break” at least one weekend each month to travel, mainly in Texas.  His favorite place so far has been the Lake Conroe area.  He also enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Elizabeth who is conducting burn research at Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, through the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Neuser remains close to his father and grandmother.  Because of his success, he, with the help of his sister, was able to purchase a car for his father last year for his birthday.  He makes it a point to have lunch with his 86-year-old grandmother every Thursday.  Next year, he and his girlfriend are planning to take his grandmother on a cruise to Mexico, Honduras and Belize.

In addition, Neuser and a few of his friends co-founded a new charity—Leah Johnson Charities. 

“My friend Adam is director of Operations for a sober living program in Kerrville,” explained Neuser.  “He was dating Leah Johnson, who was a recovering drug addict and unfortunately passed away during a relapse.  The goal of Leah Johnson Charities is to provide a bridge to recovery for people suffering with chemical dependency.  We just received our 501(c) status.”

“This field is life and death,” continued Neuser.  “People overdose; people go to prison.  I want to do my part to give people the best opportunity available.  I have learned that with intention and purpose, I can do, be and have anything I want.  I want to be part of helping others discover that lesson.”

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