WORCESTER (CBS) – Michael Vaudreuil hopes anyone who hits rock bottom hears his story. “You go through life and you say, ‘someday I’m going do this. I’m going do that,’ and very often in life you’re hit with a curveball that kind of throws you off track.”

It was the recession that threw Vaudreuil off track. “It left our heads spinning. It happened so fast.”

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In 2007, his plastering business went under. Within six months, so did everything else. “We lost our home, bankruptcy, and our personal vehicle… decimation was completed. I was just a shell of a person at that time.”

He took the only job he could find, a custodian at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. To cut the boredom, he signed up for a tuition-free class WPI offers employees. That brought him to a new world, and the lab where he designed his own prototype of a reusable dust fuel cartridge.

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After eight years of classes all day and cleaning all night, Vaudreuil now emerges a mechanical engineer. He graduated Saturday, May 14th, with a class of students less than half his age. “It’s a lot. It’s a lot to comprehend,” says his wife, Joyce.

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He not only received a diploma, but hopes for a new job, and a life the Vaudreuils dreamed might happen someday. “Very few times do you ever get to experience a real ‘someday,'” says Vaudreuil. “And so it feels like, welcome to my ‘someday.'”

Christina Hager