54-year-old graduates from college he cleaned at night as janitor

54-year-old graduates from college he cleaned at night as janitor
Image: Joyce Vaudreuil via Washington Post

[Ed. – Overcoming adversity through hard work and dedication]

When Michael Vaudreuil’s college classmates were in the library studying together at night, he was wiping down chalkboards and picking up their trash.

But this weekend, donning a black cap and gown, he stood with them not as a 54-year-old college custodian but as a fellow undergraduate.

It was 2008, the year of the economic downturn, when Vaudreuil filed for bankruptcy, his house was foreclosed on and his car repossessed. His thriving 24-year plastering business had ground to a halt as the economy waned.

Months earlier, in May 2007, a typically busy time for construction work, he sat home for two weeks without any jobs lined up, the first time that had ever happened in all the years he’d been an independent contractor. It was an early indication that hard times were ahead. By fall, he tried to find a steady job with a construction company but by then no one was hiring. And now he no longer had the extra income to support his wife’s entrepreneurial effort — a coffee vending machine business — so that went under too.

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