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Degree in hand, custodian at WPI is leaving for engineering job

Michael Vaudreuil.
Michael Vaudreuil.(WPI)

After several years balancing his second-shift custodial gig at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a full slate of classes there, Michael Vaudreuil is moving on from the school that helped him reset his career at the age of 54.

WPI announced that Vaudreuil is leaving for a job in Connecticut as an engineer with the aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney. He starts in July, according to an article on the school’s website accompanied by a picture of him holding a sign that reads, “Old dog has new job.”

“I really haven’t lost sight of the eye-on-the-prize type of thinking,” he told The Daily Herd, a campus news site. “Getting that job is always what it’s been about. That’s the moment I fought for, for so hard, all of those years.”

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Vaudreuil’s graduation drew broad attention last month, as the former plasterer told many news outlets about his journey. He had worked for years as a plasterer before the Great Recession caused his economic prospects to deteriorate.

In 2008, he found a job at WPI. He told Globe columnist Thomas Farragher in May that the academic environment there helped him decide he wanted to go back to school.

“The thought process was: This is it for me,’’ Vaudreuil said in May. “This is the last train out of the station. Your back’s against the cliff. You either jump off, or you fight for your life.’’

His wife, Joyce, helped support him through the challenges, and he told The Daily Herd he was happy to receive the attention surrounding his commencement. He credits the coverage, which also reached NBC Nightly News and other national outlets, with helping his appeal to employers.

“To the degree that it took off was a bit surprising,” he told the campus news site. “It was almost an out-of-body experience. You see this happen, things go viral — now it’s happening to me.”

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Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.