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News Archives - 2004

Rick Dzurik: a test of faith leads to discovery of vocation

June 2004

Rick Dzurik in front of pianoWhen Rick Dzurik was laid off in 2001 after working in technology for 20 years, his first thought was, "What am I going to do now?" He had begun as a computer programmer specializing in public records information in 1980, and worked his way up until he was managing a department of 22 employees. Suddenly his world turned upside down and he had no idea where to begin to right it. Though it would have been hard to anticipate at the time, he would eventually come to view the loss of his job as a gift.

At a spiritual retreat in Bosnia, Dzurik said he received a message. Matthew 6:25-34 kept echoing in his head with clarity, "Why would you worry?" "I thought, it is a nice little message Lord, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with me" Or so he thought until he returned from the retreat and six days later his job abruptly came to an end. "I began to panic and realized I hadn’t written a resume in over 17 years. I have a wife and kids, what am I going to do? Then I remembered the message and realized that God actually warned me ahead of time. My first real faith lesson was ‘don’t panic, there’s something better for you, a plan. Trust that His timing is perfect. That was a hard lesson."

After the initial shock, Dzurik began to realize that losing the job was a gift. His close friends reassured him that the lord would put him somewhere and use him. It took him a while to figure out what he enjoyed doing again but something clearly stood out. Before becoming a programmer in 1980, Dzurik was a working musician. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he studied arranging and composing and subsequently worked as a full-time session guitarist.

As time went on, he had decided to stop plucking strings for a living and start typing. He never put the guitar down completely though and as his faith grew stronger, he began utilizing his musical talents in a beneficial capacity, before knowing that there was even such a thing as music therapy. "I would be called to hospitals to pray with people and would bring my guitar along to calm myself and everyone else with music, all the while thinking that there was very therapeutic value to it." Dzurik often played for his prayer group and, in addition, volunteered, offering guitar lessons to troubled adolescents.

"Before I started any formal music therapy education, I was being trained and tested to find out if I could really do it. When I look back, I can see the pathways connecting." When Dzurik realized that this was indeed his vocation, he called Augsburg College and spoke with professor Roberta Kagin. With her encouragement, he visited admissions counselor Bethany Bierman. Kagin and Bierman both understood that this was not merely a decision to change a career for Dzurik but was something bigger. It was now a clear vocational path that could not be ignored.

Dzurik enrolled full-time in the music therapy program in September of 2002 at age 54. He looked forward to learning from his fellow students, most of whom were 19-20 years old. He was invigorated by the youthful infusion of hope and idealism. "That type of enthusiasm was not stifled by the professors. They really, really care," Dzurik said.

"In order for me to finish in two years I had to average five credits per semester, which is basically an overload." When he was cautioned against the intense schedule he simply stated, "I’ve got a wife and three children. I’m motivated. I’ll do it." His family had already learned to make sacrifices. His wife of 19 years, Barbara, had returned to work part time and they cut back on everything. His children—Thomas, 9, Maria, 13, and Anna, 15—accepted the situation bravely.

In that first year, right before finals, Dzurik hit an emotional wall. Driving home one day, already exhausted from the rigorous schedule and lack of sleep, he knew that when he got home, he would need to help his children with their homework and be a dad. The family was also to a point where they probably weren’t going to be able to afford a Christmas tree. "I’d always been able to support my family, but when God gets out the big shears to work on your pride and your ego, he cuts you right down to the base. Just when I felt I couldn’t do it anymore and I needed his help, it came." When he arrived home and opened the mailbox, the contents caused him to drop to his knees in the snowy driveway. Inside was an envelope holding ten $100 bills with a typed message stating, "Rejoice in the lord always, again I say rejoice. Bring me all of your requests and I will take care of them." Dzurik couldn’t help but be reminded of the earlier message he’d received, "Why would you worry?"

Dzurik doesn’t know who put the envelope there that day; there was no postmark, no stamp, it was just out there in his mailbox in the middle of nowhere, on the dirt road that runs in front of his home. It also wasn’t the last time his family was the recipient of such timely generosity. "Each time we’d get one of those kisses on the forehead from God, we’d realize that we would look back on this time of struggle as the time when we were closest to him."

Though the schedule was taxing, Dzurik truly felt that his music therapy education was the right path for him. He appreciated Augsburg’s compassion oriented program, embracing the balance that the training offered of the qualitative versus the quantitative. The degree is not an easy one to obtain with credit requirements nearing that of a Masters degree, or dual degrees in art and science, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way. "This program has a beating heart. We’re trained to have a heart first. You can always write the numbers down later, but in this field you have to be present for that person," a style signature to Augsburg.

Dzurik is doing his internship at Methodist Hospital and wants to work in the area of hospice. He was given a great way to sum up the kind of work he would like to do by a colleague and fellow graduate of Augsburg College, Sharon Booth, describes her work of music therapy in the hospice setting as "singing people into heaven." For Dzurik, that realization makes it easier to absorb some of the pain that comes with loss.

As he looks at the tumult of losing his job, the fulfillment and satisfaction from his education at Augsburg, and the uncertainty of the future, Dzurik is above all thankful. He has demonstrated a model for his children of what it means to follow one’s vocation and in the process, he said, "I’ve found gifts greater than if I had not been tested." .