Well, not really. These 3 Mount Carmel Alums came to MC on March 9th because I asked them to and they saw an opportunity to make an impact on our students. The scapulars and stocking caps were just a token of appreciation. They are my cousins, the Vogt Brothers (Tom, Bob, and Bill). I asked them to come and talk to a group of 50 students about the ramifications of getting a DUI. Like most brothers, Tom, Bob, and Bill are very different from each other, yet similar in many ways. Different because of their occupations; Tom (Class of ’75), has earned many awards in the Insurance Industry as a top salesman; Bob (Class of ’78) earned a law degree and has his own Law Practice; and Bill (Class of ’83) is a Deputy Fire Commissioner for the Chicago Fire Department. Similar because they are related and all have deep loyalties to their alma mater.
As the Coordinator for SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) I thought their perspectives would be unique and I asked them to come and address the topic with some MC students. They did not hesitate. They all agreed to come on a Friday in the middle of the day and talk to this group of students. Billy, (CFD) almost didn’t make it. He was overseeing a fire over on the east side and smelled like smoke when he arrived. Thankfully, he made it just in time. He started off with some slides of horrific car accidents that occurred because the driver made a poor decision and drank before driving. Since Bill was on the scene of the accident, he could make it personal, telling the students that the young driver survived the accident, but his girlfriend did not. Because of this driver’s decision, many lives would never be the same. He also told them the origin of Scott’s Law, also known as the “Move Over Law”. This law was put into action after Lieutenant Scott Gillen was struck and killed by a drunk driver while attending to a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway in 2000. The law requires motorists to yield to emergency vehicles. Failure to do so can result in heavy penalties and suspension of your driver’s license. Scott Gillen left a wife and five daughters. He was a friend and colleague of Bill’s. His talk hit students hard. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Bill was able to show students the physical and emotional harm that a decision like drinking and driving can have.
Mr. Insurance, Tom Vogt spoke next and informed the students how a DUI can have lasting effects on not only their insurance rates (or ability to get insurance), but how it can place limits on their lives. It is very likely that a conviction of a DUI would exclude students from certain occupations like practicing law, teaching, or nursing. If a college or university was aware that an applicant had a DUI conviction, they may deny admission to certain programs. The reality of the situation is that a DUI conviction would prevent you from getting a teaching license, a nursing license or law degree. So, pursuing these occupations would be a waste of your money. If you did not inform the college/university and pursued the degree anyway, the conviction will be revealed once you apply for a license and a background check is completed. Now, you’ve wasted both time and money. You may have earned the degree, but you will need a license to practice, teach, etc., and that license would be denied. In addition, a DUI conviction can prevent you from receiving financial aid. Tom also gave some background on his career at Mount Carmel. He was a wrestler and one of the first students at Mount Carmel to compete at the state level (his brother, Billy gave us that info). Tom admitted that he wasn’t a very serious student and shared that his GPA was far from stellar. After graduation, he pursued his degree in a non-traditional way, by going to Chicago State University for two years and then finishing at Loras College (now University). Tom encouraged the students to complete their education and to take it seriously. He told them hard work was the key to success. Tom’s delivery definitely made an impact on the students in the room.
The straight money talk came from my cousin, Bob – the lawyer. He started out by telling the students that he owns his own law firm and charges $200 per hour for his services. He then said, “You do not want to call me when you get in trouble and get a DUI because as soon as I pick up the phone and start talking to you, the meter is running and it’s going to cost you!” He talked about the expenses of a DUI and what you could do with that amount of money. He told them to make wise choices and avoid getting into trouble. Bob gave the students the same advice that he gives his adult clients. Don’t take chances. If you have been drinking, don’t drive. Use Lyft or Uber. In today’s world the impact a DUI can have on you personally and on innocent people is not worth the risk.
I believe the students were impressed by the 3 cousins, as was I. One student asked the question, “how did all three of you become so successful?” I loved the answers they gave. Billy said that he believed they were successful because their parents valued education and sent them to good schools – like Mount Carmel. Bob said that their father, who was a line man for ComEd, worked 7 days a week, so they knew what hard work looked like. And Tom, once again surprising me, told the students that going to church every week helped him to be successful. “Your faith will get you through the hard times. Go to church”. Well said, cousins! I could not have been prouder to call them my cousins. True Men of Carmel.