Ernie Boughman III

January 25, 2010 

His job: Senior project manager, BP Barber

Age: 37

Family: Wife, Gale; two children, Emma, 5; Alex, 3

Education: Bachelor's degree in architectural design and master's degree in city and regional planning, both from Clemson University

Community/professional involvement: Member, Light the Night Walk Steering Committee, and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; volunteer, Children's Hospital Radiothon, Palmetto Health Foundation; founder, Emma's Light; treasurer, Columbia First Seventh-day Adventist Church; executive committee member, S.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association

His story: After nine years with Parsons Brinckerhoff, he joined BP Barber to build its planning practice. His projects include a transportation plan for Northeast Richland/Elgin area, development plans around Fort Jackson and McEntire Air National Guard Base, and a bike and pedestrian pathway plan for Columbia.

His young daughter's battle with leukemia inspired him to found Emma's Light to help raise money for Palmetto Health Children's Hospital and to provide "comfort, hope, and healing" to children living with cancer. He has raised nearly $11,000 for various cancer causes. Emma's leukemia is in remission.

What saying does he live by? "'God's plan for each of us is perfect; He makes no mistakes.' We may not understand it all as it is happening, but we will one day."

His life changed when ... "Right after Gale and I were married, we moved to Buffalo. After four months of not landing a job, I ended up taking a position with a firm that specialized in transportation projects - something about which I knew very little. ... So the job I took out of necessity became a career I love."

How did he recover after failing at something? "In graduate school at Clemson, I pursued a double master's degree in architecture, and city and regional planning. Several weeks into my thesis year of the program, I hit a roadblock. I realized that I no longer enjoyed architecture and that planning was my passion. Dropping the architecture portion of my master's degree seemed like failure to me. Fortunately, through much prayer, support, and counsel from my family, I finally realized that circumstances change."

How did he balance work while caring for his daughter? "Emma's illness was what brought balance to my life. Prior to her being diagnosed with leukemia, I certainly loved and cared for my family, but work was my priority; 60-plus-hour workweeks were the norm. When you are told that your child has a potentially fatal disease, things come into perspective pretty quickly, and you realize that balance is critical and healthy. ... As odd as it may sound, my daughter's leukemia has been a blessing to me personally and my family as a whole."

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