What did you study at UNH?
What were you doing one year out of college?
I was working in a surfboard factory in San Diego making surfboards for Al Merrick’s Channel Islands, the leader in the surfing industry. We would make nearly 200 surfboards a week that were shaped and glassed for all surfers, including the pros, across the globe. My specialty was quality control.
What were you doing five years out of college?
I was spending my summer months in the San Juan Islands, Wash., working as an assistant brewer for San Juan Brewing Company, Font Street Ale House in Friday Harbor. On the weekends I would work on the golf course, explore the islands by kayak, go crabbing, fish for salmon and surf Vancouver Island. During the winter months I would travel down to Cardiff, San Diego, where I would ride my beach cruiser to work at the local community college as an accounting tutor. This job was the most rewarding as I could really see my students start to “get it.” Accounting is one of those subjects that can be quite scary, especially if the professor can’t relate to their students.
What were you doing 10 years out of college?
My wife, Jaclyn Van Bourgondien ’04, and I started our own business, Farm To Pint. We were determined to cultivate the craft beer movement from the ground up so we planted an acre of hops on our family farm. We wanted to educate the public about farming hops and create an experience for those interested in this not re-emerging crop in New York. We even sold a bunch of wet hops to Portsmouth Brewery, where UNH alums greeted us with open arms. After harvest in the early fall, Jaclyn and I would travel back to Maui where were worked for the winter. I waited tables at Duke’s Beach House, and spent my days on the water working for Pacific Whale Foundation.
What are you doing now?
Most recently, we had the largest harvest in the past three years at Farm To Pint and were able to have almost all of it pre-sold. I am back in Maui and have taken a position as a sales rep for Maui Stone Craft Beverages. Stone Brewing Company and Maui Brewing Company have joined forces on Maui to change the beer industry out here in the Pacific. I am passionate about this industry and committed to the art of craft beer. Plus, living in paradise has its perks, too.
How do you feel your time at UNH has had an impact on where you are today?
I’ll never forget when I graduated and I was talking to an advisor in McConnell. He told me: find something you are passionate about and be the best you can be at it. I’ve done so much more then the few things I mentioned above. Some of these include working for Merrill Lynch, investment banking for AIG in New York City, driving trucks for my family’s greenhouse business, selling solar in SoCal, waiting tables and so on. I think UNH taught me to be myself, not only on a career level, but also in everyday life. It also taught me in a way that nothing comes easy. You have to work hard at whatever your goals are in life.
Why do you believe in UNH?
I believe in UNH because I look back at my experience there and realize that I really had the ability to learn. UNH taught me to apply myself, instead of just going through the motions. I remember some of my computer science classes and upper level accounting classes seemed so foreign to me. And so did learning the Samoan language during my semester abroad, but I look back at it and realize that I was able to accomplish my goals. Overall, UNH allowed me believe in myself. As they say, “Live Free or Die.”