Philip Dugas “I’ll tell you what—and this is going to sound like a commercial—but coming to SMC is the best thing I ever did in this life.”

Newshounds are a breed apart: tough, cynical, and not above doing just about anything to get a story or photo. But Philip Dugas—though he spent years as a news photographer—never felt that he was part of the ‘pack.’ “I kind of fell into being a cameraman, but I never really liked it all that much. You had these people wandering around saying, ‘We know this is garbage, but just do your best with it.’ The cynicism of those people really began to get to me,” he continues. “And then I began to lose my hearing, and that put things in perspective: I wanted something better.”

For Philip, that ‘something better’ was a return—in a way—to the pleasures of childhood. “As a boy, I always loved melting metals,” he recalls. “My dad would bring me home blocks of lead from the steel mill, and I’d melt them in the basement to make my own ‘tin’ soldiers. I’ve always been fascinated with the liquification of metals,” he says with real passion. “So I thought, ‘If that’s what you love, do it!’”

And Philip is doing it. “For three years after my hearing loss I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just managed to keep myself afloat with odd jobs. But then I decided to learn,” says Philip. His re-immersion in a childhood passion has found dedicated guides at SMC. “I’m studying welding with Mr. Callender, a man from Sheffield, England, who’s an absolute wizard with the torch,” says Philip. “He’s kind, intelligent, and patient. And now my only difficulty is in deciding what area of welding I’ll go into. I don’t want to get rich,” he adds. “I think the best thing you can do for yourself—as a human being—is to make yourself a little bit interesting and be nice to people. From that, all else flows.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.