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Old Dog Learns New Tricks

20 May 16  | Engineering |  Recruitment News
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks!

Mike Vaudreuil graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences in Mechanical Engineering at the age of 54.
PHOTO CRED: Joyce Vaudreuil

Mike Vaudreuil watched his life fall apart when the economic crisis of 2008 robbed him of his 24-year plastering business, his livelihood, and finally his ability to support his wife's entrepreneurial venture. 

Before long, the savings were exhausted, and the only work Mike could get was a position as a night custodian at a local college. It meant a pay cut of about 50%, but it was work in a time when there wasn't much to be had, and it came with some great benefits which Mike took full advantage of in order to make it feel like he was earning a little more. 

The best of these benefits was the ability to take undergraduate classes at the college, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, tuition free, and so Mike spent his days in class, and his nights cleaning the classroom. 

"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 realised that if I kept it up I could get a degree."

And now, nearly a decade after the seams of his life unravelled, Mike has graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He wrote 'Old dog has new tricks' on his mortarboard, along with the initials of his wife, son and two daughters around the edges, and stood among his peers, some more than 30 years his junior, to walk in the graduation ceremony. 

Mike waits with his classmates to walk in the graduation ceremony and receive his diploma
PHOTO CRED: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Mike's whole family turned out to support him as he received his diploma, and the college president made special mention of him in her speech:

"Mike could have stopped at any time. But he did not give up. 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 - we are so proud of you, Mike!" 

As Mike stood up, and gave a small bow, his fellow graduates, many half his age, cheered his determination as much as his achievement. 

Mike's fantastic accomplishment holds a lesson for all of us: when things go awry, your attitude is what will carry you through. Mike lost his business and his livelihood, and instead of lamenting his bad fortune and giving up, he took any job he could get, and made the very most of it.

It's never too late to try something new, to better ourselves, or to make a change. Too often, we feel that the choices we make in our youth create rails upon which the rest of our lives will run, but the truth is that there is nothing wrong with going off the beaten path and finding a new route to follow. 

Our congratulations, and wishing you the very best of luck in whatever comes next, Mike!

Are you looking for a new opportunity, or perhaps a change of career?

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