When Andrew May went back to school at Ivy Tech for a diesel technology degree in his late 30s, he knew he’d be learning about the latest technology. But he didn’t know how tired it would make him.
The father of three suddenly was both a full-time employee and a full-time student. He would work 10-12 hours a day at his mechanic’s job before heading to four hours of evening classes. Keeping up with his studies meant missing some important time with his kids, who stay busy with swimming, track, travel baseball and other activities.
But last May the sacrifices paid off when he completed his associate degree. How did he do it?
“Just determination,” he says. “I made it work because I wanted it to work.” He moved his schedule around as best he could, which wasn’t easy, since he took all of his classes in person. And his wife took advantage of flexibility at her job so she could handle all the kids’ transportation.
His advice to others: Keep the end in mind. “It’ll wear you down. It’ll seem tough. You’ll think you’ll want to quit. But the end goal is worth it.”
May decided to return to school when the retirement of a mechanic at Woodco Walls in Terre Haute provided an opening for him. Although he already had automotive technician skills, he thought learning the latest electrical and diagnostic technology would give him an edge, especially amid an aging work force. He had attended a year of college when he was young but had never completed his degree.
May says he was able to put what he was learning at Ivy Tech to work immediately, especially in the areas of computerization and emissions systems. Now he manages the maintenance of the entire fleet at Woodco, a concrete contractor.
With his studies complete, he looks forward to spending more time with his family.
“I did it partly for them, to show them that you can do it,” May says. “Now they can go to college and be whatever they want to be.”
He’s already set an example for his 16-year-old daughter, who started to set her sights higher after her dad went back to school. She’s a straight-A student and wants to be a psychologist.