One Student's Formula for Success: 'Put Yourself Out There!'

Diego De Bedout, in black blazer, stands by a railing near a stairway.

A busy, but often closed-for-repair, bridge in his home town of San Jose, Costa Rica, sparked Diego De Bedout’s interest in civil engineering.

De Bedout thought, “If that bridge could be fixed, it would be so much better for everyone who had to cross that bridge daily. I could get involved and work on this problem and really make a difference in people’s lives.”

Now a 2018 graduate of the U’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering—and College of Science and Engineering Commencement speaker—De Bedout will soon receive a master’s degree. His key to success? Learning to deal with failure, a philosophy he found in the book “The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life,” by Tal Ben-Shahar.

“The book is not about not doing things right. It says perfection is an illusion, and you have to seek balance,” says De Bedout. “The author says trying to be perfect will not lead to happiness, but in fact can hold you back as you try to avoid the possibility of failure. He says we either learn from our failures or we fail to learn. I have been trying to do that. Yes, I will fail sometimes, but I will succeed sometimes.”

De Bedout embraces this life philosophy thoroughly. “I like being busy, I’m an extrovert, and I really like people. I put myself out there and good things happen.

“Being on my own has made me grow up. I came [to the University] knowing no one, and now I know a lot of people and have professional connections. I have come to appreciate how much your life is shaped by the situation you are born into. My parents raised me with a hard-working attitude. I was given a lot of opportunities, but they made sure that I was going to take advantage of them.”

Video: De Bedout on civil engineering as his life's work
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities