Hard work and a viral story propels 54-year-old grad

Photo: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Michael Vaudreuil, 54, lost it all in the economic meltdown of 2008. His business collapsed and he was out of a job and would soon be out of money if he hadn’t taken a part-time gig as a janitor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

That was eight years ago.

He lost his home, his life savings, and his self respect.

He’s been a janitor ever since, but, using the school’s free-tuition program, he took classes at the school and in May, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering degree, plus a minor in psychology.

It’s a feel-good story. Sort of.


He kept applying for jobs. But he’s 54. So he kept working as a janitor while he searched for work.

Then, NBC News told his story.

The job offers came flying in.

On July 11, he starts at Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut.

“I’m going to quote one of my favorite movies—they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he told The Daily Herd, WPI’s newspaper. “I’m looking forward to the satisfaction and fulfillment that will come with the job.”

What if his story hadn’t gone viral? Would a 54-year-old guy with a bachelor’s degree get a job offer from Fortune 500 companies?

“I was certainly welcoming of it, because I thought it would help networking-wise,” he said. “To the degree that it took off was a bit surprising. It was almost an out-of-body experience. You see this happen, things go viral—now it’s happening to me.”

Until he moves and starts at his new job next month, Vaudreuil plans to keep cleaning.