This Custodian Just Graduated From the College He’s Cleaned for 8 Years

Success stories
Image from CBS Boston

“You go through life and you say, ‘someday I’m going [to] do this. I’m going [to] do that,’ and very often in life you’re hit with a curveball that kind of throws you off track,” Michael Vaudreuil told CBS Boston.

For Vaudreuil, like many others, that curveball was the recession. In 2007, his plastering business went under, and his family lost pretty much everything and filed for bankruptcy within six months.

His “decimation was completed,” he said.

He finally found a job as a custodian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a private technical university in Worcester, Massachusetts. Though it was a far cry from owning his own business — and boring to boot — this position would turn out to be life-changing.

How a Custodian Job Changed His Life

To counter the boredom, CBS reports, Vaudreuil began taking some classes tuition-free, a WPI employee benefit.

After eight years of classes during the day and cleaning the campus at night, 54-year-old Vaudreuil graduated Saturday, May 14, as a mechanical engineer.

The custodian walked at graduation with classmates, the majority whom were nearly a third his age, and is hopeful about starting the next phase in his life. He plans to turn his highly sought-after degree into a lucrative new career — the median starting salary for mechanical engineers is about $63,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Very few times do you ever get to experience a real ‘someday,’” Vaudreuil told CBS. “And so it feels like, welcome to my ‘someday.’”

Your Turn: Do you know a story of someone who turned a financial disaster into a blessing? Share it in the comments!

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

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