Finding purpose, passion and drive

By Stephanie Busillo February 14, 2022

David Pohorence smiles outside on a sunny day

David Pohorence ’94 grew up believing he could be anything he wanted to be. His parents instilled a belief system in him and his six brothers and sisters that hard work, family and faith are a solid foundation for a good future.

Since then, Pohorence has found success in his life and is now sharing his lessons with others in his new book, “Why Not Me: Discover Your Purpose – Passion – Drive.”

Pohorence, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is raw, honest, impactful and vulnerable in his writing. He begins by asking three questions: What is it I want to do? What is it I like to do? What is it I’m meant to do? Based on his personal experiences, he helps the reader answer these questions through a series of thought-provoking exercises.  

Pohorence reaches far back into his formative years to find the answers to these pressing questions. Exploring each facet of purpose, passion and drive forced him to make connections from his past to his present by examining influential people and experiences that have contributed to who he is now.

“My support system and who I surrounded myself with helped guide me to what path I ultimately decided to take,” Pohorence said. “As I think about my purpose, passion, and what matters most, I will always remember this: Each experience in life shapes who we ultimately become. Mistakes are OK, and they help shape who we are, but the bottom line is that what we take from those mistakes is what will truly define us.”

Pohorence grew up with very little in terms of money, but rich with love and support, he said. Although no one in his family had attended college, and some didn’t graduate high school, Pohorence knew he wanted more out of life.

“My father used to tell us, ‘The power of believing in yourself is the first step to changing the path you are on,”’ Pohorence said.

His parents encouraged education, but some of his siblings chose work instead of school. Although his father never finished school beyond third grade, Pohorence said it’s important “to learn from anyone, anywhere, regardless of their educational achievements or experiences.”

Each person who came into Pohorence’s life became a lesson. It wasn’t always easy to see the positive, but he leaned on his father’s words and found people to guide him. Pohorence still remembers when his first boss told him how important his paper route was to his customers.

“Don’t carry the burden alone,” Pohorence said. “There are people in your life who want to help you.”

After two years at a local community college, he transferred to Quinnipiac. He later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

“My admissions counselor is the reason I came to Quinnipiac. I was the first person in my family to go to college and she helped me navigate the process,” Pohorence said.

"I never felt judged from the day I stepped onto campus to the day I left," he added. "I give credit to everyone who brings in these compassionate students."

Soon after graduation, Pohorence secured a good job in the insurance industry. But somehow, he felt that his purpose was something different. So he followed his passion for sports and earned a master’s degree in sports management.

Pohorence always knew he wanted to make an impact on people and help change lives, so he and his wife moved to North Carolina to work at a nonprofit. But in true Pohorence fashion, he wanted more.

He answered an ad in the local newspaper from Anytime Fitness. The company was looking to open a franchise in the area. Given his deep passion for sports, health and nutrition, Pohorence met with company representatives in a hotel conference room — and met his future. He had never run a business and had never considered owning a gym, but there he sat, confidently talking about how he could make this business a success.

At that exact moment, all of the lessons that brought him to this place of deep conviction validated his dream. He knew he could be successful at just about anything if he set his mind to it.

Anytime Fitness took a chance on him and helped Pohorence open his first gym in 2010 in Wesley Chapel, North Carolina. Success soon followed, and in 2016, he opened a second gym in Indian Land, South Carolina, followed by his most recent gym opening in 2017 in Waxhaw, North Carolina.

In addition to coaching and running his businesses, Pohorence plans a 2022 launch of an educational podcast series and several speaking engagements based on his book to help others discover their passion, purpose and drive.

Of course, becoming the person he is today did not happen in a vacuum. The journey continues for Pohorence by paying it forward. He is a mentor to some, a friend to many and a voice to those who need to hear that they can reach their goals, too.

Through his business and now a book, Pohorence’s life is dedicated to making a positive impact in people’s lives, including his own family. Pohorence and his wife, Shannon, teach their children, Avery and Caleb, that they only get one chance at life.

“I want Avery and Caleb to know that anything is possible if you really want to achieve it in life,” Pohorence said. “I never thought I would write a book, but it was important for me to prove that you are capable of more than you think. You must work hard, believe in yourself and take action. Nobody will hand things to you. If you want it, you must go get it.”

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