What started out as a desire to help create a Sto-Rox School District alumni association and work toward raising money for a district scholarship fund, has turned Bill Repack into a motivational speaker of sorts.
His love of McKees Rocks and a desire to prepare young adults for the real world has Mr. Repack speaking frankly with Stowe and McKees Rocks students. Mr. Repack, a management professor at Robert Morris University School of Business, is not one to mince words and he wants these students to realize education is the "absolute key to success." Whether it's a college education or the learning of a skill or trade, he tells students, "you're simply behind the eight-ball the rest of your life" if you do not continue your education beyond high school.
"I'm not really good at excuses," he said during a meeting with district National Honor Society students April 23. "I'm a truthful person, even when the truth hurts."
He met with these students not only to share advice on networking and swallowing your pride enough to ask for help, but to ask them for guidance in how to get through to their fellow classmates.
He's taken to providing these seminars with a common sense approach on how to fashion your life. Besides furthering your education, he recommends taking responsibility for yourself and thinking things through before acting on them.
"If you are going to have a child, you owe that child a lot of consideration," he said.
He's considering adopting the use of a catch phrase for his presentations -- "If it's to be, it's up to me."
Why should students heed his advice?
It could be his proven track-record in the business world. He has owned 15 different businesses in his lifetime; including door-to-door sales, paper routes and lemonade stands as a youth. He worked as a sales training director for places like Merck and Bristol-Myers and works with his wife, Diana, offering advice to those considering starting or purchasing a franchised business.
Or maybe it's a shared background and a childhood tragedy resulting in the loss of his father? He's related the jealousy he felt and the "woe is me" attitude he developed after the death of his father at age 6. The death left his family financially strapped and depending on the help of grandparents to make ends meet.
"We had a lot of love. My mother pushed us and pushed us," he said.
Both he and his brother, David who lives in South Carolina, knew they were expected to attend college. They didn't know how they were going to pay for it, but they knew they were going.
Mr. Repack said he always knew he wanted to teach and develop businesses. He received some scholarship money and worked throughout his years at McKees Rocks High School to help foot the bill.
Higher education played a role throughout his life. In the mid-1990s, earning his doctorate in entrepreneurial management from Berne University in New Hampshire allowed him to take some courses in the West Indies.
Over the years, he has always been interested in helping students, whether they be his personal students at the university or from his hometown. He has been known to include some of his students in his business ventures.
"It's kind of fun, you getting to help younger people and help yourself," he said, noting the gratification in helping others.
Even now as he collaborates with others at Sto-Rox to create an alumni association and fund scholarships, he is including his students at Robert Morris in the process. Interns with the university have been helping him scour old yearbooks to identify student leaders from each graduating class. Social networking is also being used to contact former students and gauge interest in the association.
"We're looking for people who want to be part of the solution," he said, noting they already have a number of people willing to give back.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: email@example.com. First Published May 3, 2012 5:15 AM