Back in 2008, Mike Vaudreuil was living the American dream. He owned his own company, he had the wife and kids, the nice house, all of it. Then came the economic downturn, forcing Michael to file for bankruptcy and losing his car and foreclosing his home in the process.
The turn of events forced him to take a job as a janitor at the local university. The now 54-year-old spent his nights picking up after the college students for the last 8 years. To make the job feel like it paid more Mike took advantage of every free benefit the school offered, like an education.
So Mike starting taking undergraduate classes tuition free during the day, and cleaning up after his classmates by night.
“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.”
Here he is almost a decade later graduating with his Bachelors in mechanical engineering. He came up with the perfect slogan to put on his hat:
“Old dog has new tricks” next to four letters, one for his wife, the other three for his son and two daughters all of whom were there to witness their dad walk across the stage.
The college president, Laurie A. Leshin, even included Mike in her 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.”
The room erupted in applause.
“We are so proud of you, Mike!” Leshin said.
Later Mike recalls the journey:
“I’m in my mid-40s and I lost everything, this is it for me,” Vaudreuil said he thought back then. “I tried and tried and I failed, so I just have to exist the rest of my life. But the schooling crept up on me and I realized I could do something with my life. It was the only exciting opportunity ahead of me. This is the last train out of the station and I have to get on it and do everything I can to make it work this time.”
It wasn’t an easy journey. His wife would work days while he worked nights and even when they were together he was usually studying. Right off the bat he had to drop Calculus because his Algebra was too weak. Instead of quitting he taught himself through YouTube videos and went back to take Calculus again, this time getting an A.
Because of how hard he was working the school made an exception to their “one class a term” rule and allowed Mike to double up so he could graduate even faster.
Since he just graduated he hasn’t been offered any work yet but we’re confident someone is going to get this inspirational father!