Once an opera singer, Mike Rowe began his television career by selling tchotchkes on QVC. He parlayed that into a successful career hosting industrial jobs-focused shows including Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do It, as well as stints as a pitchman for Ford and Caterpillar. Many wish the outspoken advocate for hard working Americans would run for president someday, but Rowe’s acumen for honesty, logic and reason preclude a career in politics. Instead, he used his various platforms and smooth, baritone voice to eloquently echo the message industries such as manufacturing have wanted, but couldn’t quite articulate for decades: We need skilled somebodies to do the dirty jobs.

And as great a voice that he has, and is, Rowe knows talk is much less valuable than sweat equity, so for the last decade, through mikeroweWORKs, the Baltimore native has amassed millions to award scholarships to those who exude the work ethic and determination America needs right now and are interested in learning a skill or mastering a trade. Oftentimes, it’ll lead to a much happier and profitable future than owing your soul to the new company store, the U.S. higher education system.

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