Michael Vaudreuil’s college experience is different than most students. While he learned from the same teachers during the day, he spent his night’s not studying with his fellow classmates, but rather cleaning the same chalkboards he learned on.
The Washington Post reports that Vaudreuil was running a thriving plastering business for 24-years but that business fell apart when the economy lost its steam in 2007.
The downturn was bad enough that Vaudreuil couldn’t find work with any local construction companies. Instead, he took a 50% pay cut to work as a night custodian at a local college.
As a worker at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Vaudreuil was offered free undergraduate classes which he quickly started taking advantage of during the day.
“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 told The Washington Post. “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.”
Nine years after accepting the job at the local college his entire family showed up as Vaudreuil accepted his diploma.
College President Laurie A. Leshin named Vaudreuil in her commencement speech.
“Mike could have stopped at any time. But he did not give up,” she said. “And today, at the age of 54, Mike will receive his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. That’s perseverance. Where are you Mike? Let’s give Mike a hand.”
In 1982, Vaudreuil received an associate’s degree in aeronautical engineering. Just like his own business in 2007, the airline industry was struggling when he graduates and he never pursued his dream, The Washington Post explained.
While college struggles occur for many students, Mike was working towards his degree during the day, and then scrubbing floors from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.
What might be most amazing is his perseverance towards learning. When he failed Calculus 1 because his algebra was rusty after years of no use, Mike took to YouTube, learned algebra for a second time in his life, and returned to ace his Calculus class the second time around.
Today Mike is the proud owner of a college degree in a field with many amazing and well-paying job prospects.
Great job Mike and good luck.