Doug Bialecki ’79 appreciates Professor Art Hannan for inspiration
While reading his hometown newspaper online this past spring, Doug Bialecki had a flashback to the late 1970s.
“I was reading a story in The Recorder about the dedication of the Art Hannan Fitness Center at GCC and I recalled something he told me while I was a student there that changed my life,” Bialecki said.
The moment Bialecki recalls was a conversation with Art that inspired nearly four decades of active living since that day. “I was just an average student and Art Hannan was my psychology professor, and I doubt he remembers me,” he said.
He recounts seeing Art running all the time and one day telling him that he wanted to start running every day in the future. Art was quick to reply “Start today!” Doug eventually did just that, and has been a committed every-day runner for more than 34 years.
“It wasn’t just the running,” Bialecki said. “When I think about committing to something, I often think of Art pointing his finger at me and saying ‘Start today.’ Remembering him telling me that has benefited me immensely.”
Like so many who have walked through GCC’s doors, Doug was a first-generation student and first in his family to attend college (his younger brother, Dave, also attended GCC and is an accountant in Orange).
While attending Frontier Regional High School, Doug had selected Sports/Broadcast Journalism in a career planning assignment and had hoped to go to college in Boston to achieve that goal. But, like so many, he found the price tag of a private college beyond his reach and enrolled closer to home as a Business major at the very-affordable Greenfield Community College.
“In my third semester at GCC, I took a TV production class with Bob Tracey and I thought who am I kidding?” he said. “I knew this is what I wanted to do.” He completed his Business Degree in 1979, with additional media courses.
Doug did make it to Boston, transferring to Emerson College as a Mass Communications major, thanks to outstanding guidance from GCC Transfer Advisor Rob Yacubian. He noted that Rob handled a lot of his ups and downs and was instrumental in his success.
“Rob is one of the finest human beings I have ever met. He was great, one of my favorite people of all time,” he declared.
That success began right out of college in 1981, with his first job offer to work behind the scenes at the start-up Cable News Network (CNN) for the generous sum of $3.50 an hour. He accepted and was given a reporting date. However, several days later he received a call from Alpena, Michigan with an opportunity to work as a television on-air sports broadcaster.
“I had applied for a job in Macon, Georgia, but the news director there wanted a woman to do both news and weather,” he said. “The news director in Alpena later called him asking if he knew of any available sportscasters. He sent my tape up there and the rest is history.”
That experience of producing, writing and editing his sportscasts honed the skills that would define the trajectory of his career moving forward.
After the Alpena station was taken over by a larger company that brought in its own crew, Doug returned home to Massachusetts in 1983. After a stint working at the Franklin County House of Correction, helping inmates with their occupational, avocational and recreational activities, he started a new job that was closer to his goal: Press Secretary for State Representative Ken Lemanski at the Massachusetts State House.
That work segued into a News Reporter/Copy Editor position with the Westfield Evening News in 1987, which led to a position as Sports/News Reporter/Copy Editor with the Vero Beach (FL) Press Journal in 1988 and then Editor- in-Chief for the Florida-based, national Correctional Building News in 1995. Not only was Doug’s career launched in Florida, he also met his wife there during that time.
A decade later, following a few more writer/editor positions, he began his current position as a Technical Writer and Project Editor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA in 2009, where he focuses on training manuals, online training programs, standard operating procedures and external communications for public health preparedness. He very much likes this work, saying that the CDC is “a solid organization” and that he’s “never had a bad day at work here.”
But if you ask Doug to describe his life for the past 30 years, it isn’t job skills or places of employment that you’ll hear about. Rather, it is his family and his many years as a high school football, baseball and lacrosse official, and watching his daughter play high school lacrosse.
In addition, he holds a Third-degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, completed the 1986 Boston Marathon, and is a published author – his e-book, Miracle Impossible, about a former girlfriend’s journey with and through an “inoperable” brain tumor, is available on Amazon.
Doug lives in Atlanta with his wife, Marla, an ENT office administrative assistant and their 19-year-old daughter, Sarah, a student at Young Harris College (on a lacrosse scholarship!) who is studying psychology. Their older daughter, Sabrina, 22, is married with one child and currently training as a dental assistant.
He continues to correspond with his friend and mentor, GCC Transfer Advisor Emeritus, Rob Yacubian.
And what does Art Hannan, the person who started it all, think about this? Bialecki’s former professor said, “What completes this story is the impact that the ‘Dougs’—students like Doug who abound at GCC—have had on me (and other faculty and staff). It’s this symbiotic relationship that underlies the “magic” that makes GCC a place where change and learning travel in both directions.”