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
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
agriculture classes and someday working on the family farm. He instead made a
detour and studied chemical engineering after receiving his Associate of
Science degree from SCC. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in
Chemical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He then went on
to receive his Master 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