Name: Evan Dubblestyne
Position: Marine Engineer,
NavCon Marine, Port Colborne
Feeder Schools: St. Michael CSS, St. Ambrose School
At the age of 25, Evan Dubblestyne is pursuing the job of his dreams: a dangerous and exciting career in which he fights fires, rebuilds massive engines and navigates open water for months at a time. It’s dangerous, exciting and adventurous, just like he imagined it would be.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Evan’s career is the path he took to reach it.
A decade ago, Evan was a Special Ed. student with an undiagnosed learning disability. He was entering 9th Grade, and in math class, was achieving at a 4th Grade level. He had recently lost his father and was facing an overwhelming transition into high school. When it came to his future, things weren’t overly optimistic.
But Evan had big dreams. He wanted to be a Marine Engineer.
“I could barely tie my own shoes,” says Evan of that time in his life. “But my teacher, Mr. Dewan, saw me as more than a write-off. He saw potential and repeatedly told me, ‘you can do this, we just need to show you how’.”
“Mr. Dewan was incredibly positive and backed me up one hundred percent, even though I was a struggling kid in a town that was nowhere near water. I’m so thankful. I discovered my calling because the people behind me helped me to believe that I could make it happen.”
Together with his St. Mike’s teachers, Evan worked on specialized techniques that would help him master course material in unique ways – like acronyms to help with memorization of the periodic table.
“Mr. Dewan appreciates that people learn in different ways and knew there must be a way to make the course material attainable for me. He broke everything down in steps and showed me how it was attainable,” Evan remembers. “Without him, who knows where I would have been.”
He also credits Padre Nathaniel with providing the listening ear he needed when feeling overwhelmed.
“When others believe in you, their faith amplifies your abilities in your own eyes,” reflects Evan. “Suddenly you have the motivation to achieve what never seemed possible before.”
One step at a time, Evan worked forward from 4th Grade math to the meet the stringent requirements of his engineering program – one of only 4 available in the country.
At the age of 17, he graduated from St. Mike’s CSS and was accepted into the Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre, part of Georgian College in Owen Sound.
Marine Engineers work on tugs, lakers and large ships – boats that while at sea, are essentially self-contained cities on the water. In this environment, the engineer needs to know everything about operating and fixing the on-board systems. If something goes wrong, things can get dangerous in a hurry and walking away is not an option.
As part of his program, Evan trained as a firefighter and a ship security officer. He learned about garbage collection and incineration, fixing sewage and water treatment plants, as well as how to drive the power sources and generators that keep everything going. In his spare time, he studied navigation.
There were 30 people accepted into Evan’s engineering program. By the time they graduated, only 6 were left. Against all odds, he had made it!
Evan recalls getting a true sense of the scope of his accomplishment when calling to order his engineering ring.
“I specified that it was for marine engineering, and they told me they didn’t have a logo for that – not enough people had done it,” he says with a grin.
Evan currently works as 2nd Engineer aboard a tug with NavCon Marine in Port Colborne. Work can be tough when you’re away from home for 2-3 months at a time, but he knows that with his rare set of skills, there will be land-based opportunities waiting for him when he’s ready.
“I’m thinking of a cottage on the lake and a job at the Bruce Nuclear Plant when I finally settle down,” he says.
But Evan isn’t ready to retire from his life on the open water just yet. For now, there are plenty of challenges left on the horizon, and he has come too far to let them pass on by.