The Importance of Second Chances

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Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
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Twenty years ago, Doreen Seaquist Hogan was your typical Georgia Tech freshman, juggling the issues of school work, social life, and growing up. A "straight A" honor student, with a love of sports, academics, and music, she fit right in on Tech's competitive campus. Her successful future looked like a done deal.

The fall of Doreen's senior year, it all came to a grinding halt. A family tragedy shattered her world, plunging her into depression and threatening to destroy her hard-earned future. But for the faith of one professor, she was ready to drop out of Tech and forfeit her dream to be an industrial engineer. Doreen tells her story now to honor ISyE Professor Faiz Al-Khayyal and the many other professors like him who reach beyond their students' failures to understand their pain. In doing so, they help lost individuals rediscover the confidence and ability they need to persevere.

Doreen's story was particularly painful. Her mother, a longtime MS sufferer, succumbed to the emotional stress of her illness and took her own life. The family was racked with questions and guilt. Her death followed within a few years of the death of Doreen's brother at the age of 24. It was the beginning of fall quarter, so after leaving a week for the funeral, Doreen returned to a full load of classes. But her heart wasn't in it.

"I didn't share my circumstances with the faculty" she remembers, "I didn't want any special treatment. It was then that I met Dr. Al-Khayyal in Operations Research. I had failed his first test, really bad, as I just couldn't crack a book after my mom's death."

"I'll never forget him bringing me into his office and saying, 'Seaquist, I expect more from you. What is going on?," she continues. "I pretended to be numb to the whole process, but turned around at the last moment and shared in confidence with him that my mother had passed away, with no further details. From that point on, Dr. Al-Khayyal said that if I worked hard, I could pull my grade up. He gave me no free lunches, and I worked very hard in his class."

She eventually got a B. "It was knowing that I could confide in a teacher, and that he believed in me, supported me, and was there to go through any questions I had that made all the difference in the world," she says.

The rest of Doreen's senior year was a blur, but she graduated and has worked with McDonnell Douglas/Boeing for 17 years. Her contributions have earned her numerous awards and accolades. She's now working on her MBA. After avoiding campus for 15 years because of the painful memories, Doreen's been back twice, meeting Tech's star quarterback Joe Hamilton on her most recent visit. Her California license plate proudly reads "JOJATEK".

Doreen is married to another Boeing employee, Eric Hogan, whom she met on the production line. She remains close to her father and her brother, Don, and is actively involved in her church. She would like to hear from other Georgia Tech graduates at dhogan.ie83@gtahzmni.org.

During that awful year, Doreen made Dr. Al-Khayyal a seashell plaque, which still hangs in his office today. I share this story every now and again with people to share the human spirit," she says, "and how necessary is sometimes to give people second chances."

She adds, "It also signifies that professors not only have brains, but hearts."

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H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISYE)

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Engineering, Research
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Status
  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Feb 28, 2001 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm