54 Year-Old Custodian Didn’t Give Up And You Shouldn’t Either

Next time you feel like giving up on a dream, you may want to think about Michael Vaudreuil.

In a glowing Washington Post profile accompanied by a smiling photo of Vaudreuil in his cap and gown, the details of his journey to a college degree are spelled out in a way that is sure to inspire.

At one time, Vaudreuil had a thriving construction related business, but like many Americans, 2008 was not kind to him. When his business went under, he lost most of his material posessions.

He sought employment from others in the construction business, but the work had dried up for almost everyone. He took the only job he could find and became a night custodian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts (WPI).

Like many colleges and universities, WPI offered free tuition to employees. Having taken a substantial paycut when he took the job, Vaudreuil decided to take advantage of the perk.

“I started taking classes to occupy my time constructively and get my mind off all the crap we were going through. It was one day at a time really,” he said. “I felt productive … and it was paying dividends for how it was affecting me personally. A couple years into it I realized that if I kept it up I could get a degree.”

Many years before, he had earned an associate’s degree in aeronautical engineering, but never worked in his field. Now faced with the opportunity to do something different with his life, he decided to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

At first he struggled with classes like calculus. He honed his skills by watching YouTube videos. Eventually he was excelling. He studied during the day and worked the night shift at the college.

It all paid off though. Last week, he walked across the stage to accept his degree from college president, Laurie A. Leshin.

“Mike could have stopped at any time. But he did not give up,” Leshin said to the crowd during the ceremony. “That’s perseverance. We are so proud of you, Mike!” 

Perseverance really does pay off.

Featured image by Worcester Polytechnical Institute