Beatrice graduate receives NCCA award
Michael Dux originally attended Southeast Community College to study agriculture, but ended up on a much different path.
Dux is a 2000 graduate of SCC and is the college’s recipient of the 2018 Nebraska Community College Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Each of the five Nebraska community colleges selects a graduate for this honor.
Dux received the award Nov. 4 during the NCCA’s annual meeting in Norfolk.
After graduating from Fairbury High School in 1998, Dux came to SCC with the intention of taking agricultural classes and someday working on the family farm.
He instead made a detour and studied chemical engineering after receiving his associate’s of science degree from SCC. He later received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He then went on to receive his master’s of business administration degree in project management from Colorado Technical University.
He credits his instructors at SCC’s Beatrice campus for helping him realize that his heart was in the field of science all along.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” he said about attending SCC. “The college experience and the small class sizes. We had teachers willing to mentor us, and without that I never would’ve thought of chemical engineering.”
He says the small class sizes helped him get more one-on-one attention than he would’ve gotten at a bigger school.
“When I took organic chemistry, there were four of us,” he remembers. “There would’ve been more than 250 students at UNL. With just four of us, we were able to ask more questions and have unique experiments.”
Dux began his career as a research engineer at UNL, then became a senior research scientist with Novartis Animal Health. In 2013, he moved to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to work for Pfizer. He is now the director of technical operations in Sanford, North Carolina. His team supports the clinical development of new vaccines, processing/cleaning validation and the day-to-day support of the commercial products for Pfizer.
“What’s most rewarding is developing and mentoring my employees and other colleagues at the site,” he said. “We are producing critical vaccines for the world.”
One example of those critical vaccines is Prevnar, which is used to protect from infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Prevnar is administered in babies and adults over the age of 65.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” he said. “We have some other new vaccines for unmet needs as well.”
Dux is content in his current job, but has high aspirations for the future. He hopes to one day achieve an executive-level role at a major pharmaceutical corporation. Until then, he, his wife and two children are enjoying living in North Carolina, though they miss some aspects of Nebraska.
“We like it a lot,” Dux said. “There’s not the extreme temperatures with the hot and cold, and we love the accessibility of the mountains and beaches. But we do miss the (Husker) football games.”