After attending college for the first time in his mid twenties, Robert Bryant dropped out when he was 26.
He worked as a tile setter for around thirty years, and unlike the abundance of perpetually depressed adults, he enjoyed the work he did. However, fortune is a fickle comrade. Just as he began to master his work, his body surrendered.
In 2011, Bryant injured himself during his job and shattered his humerus bone.
“At the time, the State of Indiana offered vocational rehab,” said Bryant. “I said ‘That would be great.’ So I got all signed up for school.” Yet perhaps misfortune has its way of directing us to a greater good. Three weeks into school, Bryant got a call from the state of Indiana announcing that they had discontinued their program. He could finish his first semester, but that was all they would cover.
“I was devastated. It was really trying – as an older person – I was out of schooling for so many years…” Bryant said. “But I decided, I’ve already started. I’m going to finish it anyway.” Thus began his journey to complete the path that he first embarked upon many years ago. Catching onto a long train of pre-requisite courses, it took Bryant four years to complete a two year Associate’s degree in General Studies. At the age of around 50, Bryant was learning algebra from scratch, figuring out how to use a computer, and coping with the struggles of restarting his life.
“I remember buying this laptop and looking at it for three weeks. I was afraid to touch it. I showed up to school with a bunch of papers and everyone laughed at me.” Bryant recollected, “I thought to myself, if I can get out of here with a C , I will be really happy.”
The man who struggled to operate a computer, to whom an algebra textbook looked like a foreign language, who went back to school over thirty years later in his life, graduated with honors from Ivy Tech Community College with a 3.8 GPA.
Bryant went on to pursue Accounting when he acquainted himself with Edspira. “There are a couple classes I would not have passed without it,” he said. “I owe a part of my degree to [Michael McLaughlin]. I would be on disability right now without him.” He referred the channel several times to his mentors and classmates.
Bryant obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Western Governors University four years later. “I felt wonderful after it was done. It was so hard. I am sure there are millions of people with the same story, but I remember those late nights – especially when you’re 50 – awake at three or four in the morning to prepare for tests… I did things I didn’t think I could possibly do. I had a lot of support from my mother and sister; they made a big difference.”
Our life is but a collection of our follies. We walk down the boulevard that we pave for ourselves, and we learn from our youth the happiness we can strive for for tomorrow — yet there are those seldom few who don’t confine themselves to the linearity of this path. Sometimes there are those who turn around and look at the ghosts of their past, and abandon the socially constructed timeline of their life. The conviction and drive of Robert Bryant has given him the life he has today. “I gave up a lot for my education. It changed my life, I’m a totally different person than I was before. It didn’t make me any smarter than I was but it taught me how to think. I started to really love to learn. I’ve started playing the guitar and studying music theory.”
The miracles of education are witnessed in the inspiring stories of people like Michael McLaughlin and Robert Bryant. If you, reader, in pursuit of your dreams, are facing an obstacle in your path, remember this: education lifts lives out of despair, brings people from campgrounds to established institutes, and transforms broken-boned tile setters into accounting-loving guitar enthusiasts.
We at Edspira are here to support you in your journey. We exist to make a high-quality business education accessible to everyone, regardless of income, nationality, gender, or race – all people can learn if given the opportunity and access to the right resources. Start learning today.