Day 227 - Hugh (4th person I approached)
August 15, 2014 - As I walked down the street, I saw Hugh get off his bicycle, and lock it to a bike rack outside the store we were in front of. Figuring he might be on a work break, or running errands, I asked him if he’d chat with me. He smiled and said yes, and while I pulled up my Facebook page on my phone, Hugh told me he had just finished work for the day. The company he works for allows the staff to leave at 1:00pm on Friday’s, during certain times of the summer. So he was done and ready for the weekend. Gold!
Hugh was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia (BC).
“I have a younger brother and an older step brother,” said Hugh.
“My brother is only two years younger than me, so of course we fought a lot growing up. But now we’re good friends and very close. As a matter of fact I was just at the Squamish Music Festival (BC) last weekend with him and a group of friends.” Hugh went to school in the Oak Bay neighbourhood of Victoria.
“It was cool to be a hippy at my school. Where else would that happen?” he said laughing.
“I got along with everyone at school, and was Valedictorian in my graduation class. It just means I represented my class. I was voted to be Valedictorian by my classmates. You had to have a certain level of academic achievement, but it wasn’t anything more than that,” he said modestly.
In the summer of 1993, Hugh participated in the Clayoquot Sound protest (against the logging of the temperate rainforest. At the time, the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history).
"A friend and I went to be a part of it. My parents had grown up hippies and we had been raised to stand up for what we believed in. I was 15, I was out of school for the summer and wanted to do my bit to save the ancient old-growth forests. We stayed in a camp and spent five weeks there. My grandfather came to watch and take photographs of me in the protests. My mother was really proud of what I was doing. We changed things. Forestry changed with those protests. It was exciting to be a part of that,” he said with humble pride. (*Fact Check - see link below.)
After graduating from high school, Hugh went the University of Victoria (UVic) and took pre-med for a year.
“It was all sciences and stuff. After a year of that, I decided to go another route,” he said. Hugh spent two summers in-between semesters in university, tree planting.
“I really liked the atmosphere of the camp. It was hard work, for sure. The hardest job I’ve ever done. You get paid piecemeal and so the harder you work, the more money you make. That wasn’t a problem for me as I’m a competitive person by nature, But it was hard work,” he said. After the year of pre-med, Hugh went back to UVic and studied Forestry.
“It was a new program studying plant genetics and there were only six of us in the class. It was a tight group. I went tree planting again in the summer between those two years of studying plant genetics. At the end of my studies, I spent time in Fort St James (in north-central BC) and worked in the field. We had an opportunity to spend two weeks in each of the various areas of the company, working to get a feel for how each area operated. I did not like it at all. I really didn’t see myself working in that type of environment,” said Hugh.
“I did get my undergrad and had my final work published, which was pretty amazing.”
With his undergrad in plant genetics, Hugh moved to Vancouver and went to the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“I went for my Master’s degree in Genetics. It was a two year program. Just general genetics, not plant specific,” said Hugh, nonchalantly. After getting his Master’s degree, Hugh went to work for a biotech company.
“I worked in human genetics critical care. We studied and researched drug reactions and responses in human organisms. I was with that company for seven years,” he said. When Hugh left that position, he was the Director of Research. The biomedical firm he is with now, is working in cancer research.
“We have developed a test that can detect the probability of recurrence. For example, if a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he has his prostate removed, we’ve developed a test that can determine if he has a high risk of that cancer appearing elsewhere or not,” said Hugh. I asked if he considered himself to be a scientist.
“I did until about three months ago. I was the Director of Research for this biotech, and I’ve recently moved into the business and legal side of the company. I want to become as well-rounded and experienced in all aspects of the field,” said Hugh.
Hugh is married with two children.
“My wife is a graphic designer. We’ve been married for eight years and been together for thirteen years. We have a son and daughter. We bought our first house just three years ago. I’m used to moving every two years or so, except for when I was at UBC. Now that we’ve spent three years working on our house, I never want to move again,” he said with a half funny, half serious laugh.
“Where we bought our house is a great neighbourhood. My best buddy bought a house two doors down from us. The neighbours across the street are family friends. Our next door neighbours have twins. There’s eleven kids on the block and all of the families get along very well. Life is great. I have a happy home. We’ve got healthy kids and I’ve got a wonderful wife. I have a good job and live in a great neighbourhood. I’m loving life!” #notastranger