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Jobs follow adventure opportunity

Even in an era of multiple careers, Dave Seulean's path has taken some notably strange turns.

He was planning to be a veterinarian, but went to law school because it was closer. At the same time he was being trained as an engineer by General Motors.

When I caught up with him last week, he'd spent the past year as a sales manager at Darex Corp., the Ashland company that manufactures drill bit sharpeners. But he was quick to mention that he'd given notice and planned to go back to law.

The 47-year-old Medford man says it's been a combination of opportunity and a sense of adventure that has carried him along.

It looks like I'm being flighty about my work, he said. Friends tell me they wonder why I've done this, because I'm so logical and deliberate. But I don't see the changes as being that dramatic.

He grew up in Indiana and was a semigood high school student. He went into a pre-med program at Ball State University -- which may be best known as David Letterman's school -- with the goal of becoming a veterinarian.

But his aptitude for math and science led him to the General Motors program, which would cover his college costs and provide a high-paying job in the summer.

The GM program led him to transfer to Anderson University, where he caught fire as a student.

I lifted the books and graduated at the head of my class, he said. Richard Lugar, who's still a senator, handed me my diploma.

Part of his motivation came from being with students who were committed to make a difference in the world, he said. The rest came came from the realization that he was responsible for his future. And part came from the challenges of his new career.

I was trained as a journeyman tool-and-die maker in the master mechanics program, he said. They'd give some problem to a team of people with different backgrounds and hope somebody could come up with a solution. I loved the work.

He says he was encouraged to take the law school entrance exam. So he did, and was accepted at Indiana University, which for a time was best known as the place Dan Quayle got his law degree.

Consciously, I still knew I wanted to be a vet, he said. That really appealed to me, but law school was closer than vet school.

After the focused training with GM, he found law school disappointing. It makes you into some strange kind of legal scholar and gives you very little that has to do with the practice of law, he said. Still, he excelled in law school and went out of his way to learn what he'd need to know.

He and his wife, Nancy, moved to Oregon. He studied to pass the Oregon Bar and got a job in the Jackson County public defender's office. Within a couple of years, he concluded that he wasn't eager to be a trial lawyer.

It seemed like you were always trying to tear down the other side's case, he said. It didn't feel like I was building anything.

He found his niche in estate planning, which led him to a 5-year stint in the trust department at U.S. Bank, then back to private practice.

His continuing enthusiasm for engineering led him over to Darex and his continuing enthusiasm for law is leading him back again. He's says it's not dissatisfaction with where he is, but the attraction of where he's going that keeps moving him along.

People ask me if there was something wrong at Darex, but that's not it at all, he said. It's been a blast doing this for the last year, but I have some opportunities that I really want to pursue.

It's easy to get caught in something that's comfortable and not have an adventure, he said. The worst thing, as far as a career, would be to stay with General Motors just for the pension.As it turned out, the GM division where he worked migrated to Mexico, eliminating all but 3,000 of the 16,000 jobs.

I've learned from every job I've had and I've gotten new skills at every step, he said. Somebody said you should do something that makes you feel good and do good at the same time. That's the way I've felt at the bank, the law practice and at Darex.

(Call reporter Paul Macomber at 776-4463 or e-mail him at )