After spending nearly 10 years cleaning the halls of a college, custodian Michael Vaudreuil traded his work clothes for a cap and gown. He graduated from the same school last weekend.
Now, the 58-year-old wants anyone who has hit rock bottom to hear his story.
“You go through life and you say, ‘someday I’m going do this. I’m going do that,’ and very often in life you’re hit with a curveball that kind of throws you off track.”
The Long Road to Stability
That curveball came in the form of the recession. In 2007, Vaudreuil’s plastering business tanked. Within six months, he lost everything else.
“We lost our home, bankruptcy, and our personal vehicle… decimation was completed,” Vaudreuil told CBS Boston. “I was just a shell of a person at that time.”
So, he took the only job he could find: custodian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
One day, he decided to take tuition-free classes offered to all employees. Eventually, Vuaderville found himself studying engineering during the day and going to work at night. He spent plenty of time at a lab, where he designed a prototype of a reusable dust fuel cartridge.
He says he was never treated any differently because of his age.
“I was never once made to feel uncomfortable; never felt like I was getting any easy pass,” Vaudreuil told CNN. “My presence (as a nontraditional student) didn’t attract a lot of attention.”
What Lies Ahead
Eight years later, Vaudreuil graduates with a degree in mechanical engineering.
“Graduation was a crowning achievement,” He told CNN. “One of the best days of my life.”
But it’s far from the end of the road for Vaudreuil. He plans to keep pursuing his dreams and land a job in engineering.
“I’ve got plenty of gas in the tank,” he said. “I’m chomping at the bit to get to work.”