Bridgewater has surprised me, there is definitely a family feel here.
The road may not have been straight, but the twists and turns have led Gabe Elias, ’24, to the finish line of his senior year at Bridgewater State University, and he’s confident about what comes next.
“I’ve always been open to possibilities,” Gabe said. “The way I was raised is, I need to make things happen for myself and if I put my mind to it and work hard, I’ll get things done.”
The Leominster native began his college career at a different school, studying finance.
Things were going okay until the spring of 2020 when COVID hit, classes moved online, and necessary restrictions were put in place.
“I was not doing good mentally,” Gabe said. “I couldn’t concentrate, didn’t like what I was studying and didn’t want to be there anymore.”
A friend at the time recognized his struggle and, because of his passion for sports and fitness, suggested he switch gears and study physical education.
After doing some research, Gabe discovered BSU’s physical education teacher licensure program. What he discovered piqued his interest and after some soul searching, he decided to transfer.
“I was very scared to pull the trigger and transfer, it’s a life-changing decision,” he said. “But once I did, the process was smooth and very easy.”
Around this time, he also received an email inviting him to interview for an entrepreneurial internship he’d previously applied for but had forgotten about.
He landed the internship and, while pursuing his degree at BSU to teach physical education, gained valuable knowledge on how to run a business.
“The internship taught me what I was capable of doing,” Gabe said. It also provided the confidence to launch his own company, Elias Home Improvement.
His company offers exterior and interior painting and power washing in the Leominster area. Because of the success he’s had, Gabe looks to eventually expand into a full construction business.
Before then, however, he still plans to earn his degree from Bridgewater, which means this semester he will be student teaching full-time to complete the degree requirements, while also running the business.
The ultimate goal is to be able to teach physical education at the high school level and run a business at the same time, something Gabe feels is possible because the majority of his company’s work is done on weekends, while teaching takes place during the weekdays.
“I have a lot of business goals and aspirations but aim to be a man of all trades,” he said. “I don’t like being locked into one thing. I want to be someone who is successful, someone who helps and inspires others.”
When he looks back at the last three years, it amazes him how far he’s come.
“During COVID, man, I was in a bad spot mentally,” Gabe said. “But then I think about how quickly it turned around.”
A lot of that had to do with his decision to transfer to BSU and the support he’s received.
“I’ve been calmer, less stressed and my professors have helped me tremendously with whatever I have had going on,” he said. “They are very flexible and always there to help me. Bridgewater has surprised me, there is definitely a family feel here.”
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