Written by: 
Joseph Budzar ('69)

Your dreams only come true if you dare to back them up with hard work. I learned that the hard way because I quit UNT several times before I finally dared big enough and finished my degree.

I first headed for North Texas State University in August 1963 on a Greyhound bus, having decided to move far from my home in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon arrival, I immediately fell in love with Denton and was captivated by the small-town atmosphere. The professors were caring and supportive and the student body exceptional. I was taken by the strong loyalty to family, town and country. It was a pleasure to hear your fair share of "sirs" and "ma'ams."

When I arrived in Denton, I had no idea of the sacrifices before me. Luckily, these challenges would not be faced alone. There are people you meet in life who have the ability to improve the original version of you. Their strength and quiet intelligence exceed your own, and for that you are grateful. This is what I found in my wife of 55 years, Ruth Carr. We had been together since high school and married in June 1964. I know that nothing in my life would have been possible without Ruth by my side.

My studies at North Texas were interrupted as we went back north. Money was a huge issue for us and steel mill wages in Ohio were five times greater than any student employment I could obtain in Texas. In the fall of 1965, we went back to Ohio to await the arrival of our first child but continued to divide time between north and south. A second child was born in February 1967 and then, while working in the steel mills, we learned a third child was due in June 1968.

This was a crossroad. I realized I could actually graduate and improve our standard of living if I could go back to Texas alone and gut it out one more year, taking a full load of classes straight through and working full time. "Do it," Ruth said. "If you don't, our family may not have a future."

And so I did it. It wasn't easy -- most important decisions are not -- but one year later, I had finished my degree and was reunited with my family, seeing our third child for the first time and taking on my first engineering position.

Just eight years later my career path led me to become the founder of Budzar Industries. I chose the field of fluid temperature control because it serves the industrial processing industries: rubber, paper, chemicals, textiles, plastics, power, steel, food, petroleum and pharmaceuticals.

With Ruth's support I dared big to put up our home as collateral for a bank loan, but I felt my investment was recession- proof since all these industries would have to fail before I could go out of business. Although I later sold the company to spend more time with my family, Budzar Industries is still in business and a world leader in fluid temperature control technologies.

After selling the business I established Joseph M. Budzar Ministries Inc., striving to better the world around me. I served as a substitute teacher, speaker and counselor in activities that reached students, businesses, elderly groups, addicts, the homeless and gang members. I conducted nondenominational retreats for high school students, coached high school football and basketball, and gave inspirational talks at schools, churches and correctional institutions.

Today, Ruth and I cherish our time with each other, our 13 children and 34 grandchildren. We learned it takes courage to pursue your goals, but you will find your path when you strive to be the very best and refuse to quit under pressure. We've come a long way since those days at North Texas and will always be thankful for them.

Budzar, who earned a degree in industrial arts, was unable to attend his North Texas graduation ceremony 50 years ago. He returned to UNT this spring to walk across the stage and to share his story with other graduates as a commencement speaker.

Continue reading