Story Profile 1: From the Ground and on

For Timothy Menzel, a Piedmont College life science professor, everything started in Piscataway, New Jersey. With the sound of music to the wide road and his precious ants, Menzel had two passions he wanted to pursue, and music was his choice.

At the age of 7, his love for music and nature became a big interest. “I wanted to be an ornithology professor,” says Menzel, “someone who studies birds or a music professor.”

Menzel’s love for music had taken him down the road to Stockton College. He studied music for a few years and started a band with his friends. “After graduating, I basically moved to the beach to play with my band at shore bars.” he said.

Menzel and his twin brother also played in a band while he was in graduate school. Once he moved to Georgia, he played solo for six to seven years, before an injury changed his course.

“I took a year off from playing with them when I hurt my hands.” he said.

Menzel never got a full diagnosed report on why his hands hurt, but does know it’s an overuse injury, tendonitis. “It just got really tired and I couldn’t hold a pencil,” says Menzel.  “It was from over practicing.”

His choice between music or nature became clear.

After college Menzel worked as a florist delivery manager for one year and electrical supply driver for another. He was full time for four years but only drove for two. Menzel’s boss would ask him questions about what he was doing there. “I had three things going for me,” says Menzel, “music, nature, and making a living.”

This didn’t last long before he got injured causing him to be bedridden. Menzel was hiking one day when he slipped on ice and needed to be helicoptered to the hospital, “I was unable to work for three months,” says Menzel. “It was kind of a low point.”

He spent a lot of time on the couch trying to figure out how to do things with his cast.

Menzel’s best friend gave him hope with reasons why he should keep going. “He basically convinced me to get up off the couch and do something with myself.” he said.

Menzel’s friend would set up obstacle courses in the yard for him to do on his crutches and forting streams. “He basically convinced me that I could tackle the world,” says Menzel. “I don’t know if I had, would it of not been for him.”

“I think if I were to talk to my students today about what they could learn from my experience is it’s never too late to follow some kind of path, but it requires belief in yourself and dedication.”

That didn’t happen for Menzel until he was 29. Menzel will continue to teach at Piedmont College helping to teach his students to keep going. “Sometimes it takes something like that to motivate you to see something, to see potential that you might not see otherwise.”

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