Finding His Silver Lining

March 3, 2021

We’ve all heard these adages: “Turning lemons into lemonade,” “The glass is half full” and “There’s a silver lining behind each cloud.” But how many of us can say we’ve truly embraced them? Michael Mosley, associate business analyst, FirstEnergy Utilities (FEU) Process Improvement, is a prime example of someone who has.

At 15, Michael had it all: a loving family, plenty of friends and was the star player on Copley (Ohio) Senior High’s varsity basketball team. He was a talented athlete and had a promising future playing in college basketball and maybe even the NBA.

However, fate stepped in and shattered his plans.

“I was young and stupid – and should have listened to my parents, but peer pressure won out,” said Michael as he referred to the night that changed his life. “I went out with a few friends, things got out of control due to speeding and we were in a terrible car accident.”

Michael suffered two broken bones in his neck and a bruised spinal cord resulting in paralysis. Needless to say, his basketball dreams were over.

“Like anyone, I was confused and angry – but angrier at myself for making a bad choice. My parents and sister were very loving and supportive. They helped me through the most trying time of my life.”

As part of his recovery, Michael found a different passion: music. It was the perfect outlet.

“I began to look at what’s really important in life. The best way I could express my deep feelings was through writing and music. My dad helped me create a recording studio and I dove into music and developed Mad Max, also known as Maxheat, my alter-ego, superhero character who performs multiple styles of rap and R&B,” he said.

Michael eventually attended Kent State University where he worked on his poetic skills after faithfully watching “Rap City,” a national television show. After Kent, he studied communications and sociology with a minor in prelaw at The University of Akron and worked at WZIP, the student-run radio station. While there, he created an online radio show and one of the very first podcasts to go worldwide. He received bachelor’s degrees in communications and sociology

Michael in his recording studio.

Meet Mad Maxheat.

Michael joined FirstEnergy in 2016 where he started as a contractor at the Akron Contact Center taking move-in/move-out, outage, billing and emergency calls. He eventually began a rotation with the web team responding to online customer service inquiries, as well as supporting the team in a variety of other areas. Michael joined Work Management Process Improvement in 2019 and was promoted to his current position in 2020.

Michael said his coworkers are very supportive.

“When I first started, I was extremely shy and insecure about my disability. However, my coworkers treated me like family and nurtured my development – which empowered me to just be myself while on the job,” he explained. “They were very supportive in allowing me to improve my statistical performance overtime and encouraged me to explore the diverse opportunities FirstEnergy offers.”

More About FirstEnergy’s Employee Business Resource Groups

Our Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs), support Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and business objectives through networking, mentoring, coaching, recruiting, development and community outreach.

MOSaic is committed to serving as a resource to FirstEnergy’s people of color and allies. Its members seek to further strengthen recruitment, development and advocacy to positively influence the company’s culture of diversity and inclusion.

THRIVE ​is dedicated to serving as a resource for mental wellness in addition to employees with physical and mental disabilities and major illnesses, as well as family members and friends who support and assist them.

Michael said he’s had a very adaptive and accepting career experience at FirstEnergy.

“It’s inspiring that the company has an initiative to enhance accessibility throughout the footprint and is creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace,” he said.

Michael is a member of all FirstEnergy Employee Resource Business Groups (EBRGs). He’s been a member of THRIVE since its inception and is a recruitment chair for MOSaic and maintains its SharePoint site.

“I look forward to having a larger role with other EBRGs, but for now my focus is to help THRIVE and MOSaic broaden their impact.”

Michael continues his passion for music by sharing it, and his story, through motivational speaking. He believes that support from others is vital when surviving adversity

“My family was a safety net for me as I navigated my new path in life. I want to use my story to help other young people who are facing challenges,” he said.

Michael is working with Akron Public Schools on creating a nonprofit foundation to help at-risk youth.

“I want young people to know what’s really important in life. It’s not the materialistic things that society emphasizes, it’s love, family and helping others. That’s what matters most.”