My Bentley Story by Robert Hodgkins
Student, Melrose, Massachusetts
My story is one of perseverance. I dropped of Medford High School in 1971. I was lost and didn't have the parental support system to guide me through to a better decision. And no, I don't blame them. They had 6 other kids to worry about aside from me. I felt like an outsider in High School and simply gave up. Just 2 years later I went back to take the 2 classes required for graduation. It still said 1972 on my diploma! I then moved on to take some classes at Bunker Hill Community College. To my dismay I fell into the same trap. I just didn't seem to belong there and was not motivated to continue beyond the 4 classes I passed. Plus I had no financial support and stopped going. Fast forward to 1980 and when working for Nixdorf Computer out of North Reading I took some evening classes that were taught in-house by Northeastern University. When I got laid off in 1992 I decided I needed to continue my journey and started taking evening classes at Northeastern at the Burlington MA satellite campus. I focused my day hours (and many nights) with job search activities while my wife took on the financial burden for the family. To supplement her income I did odd jobs and took on part time waiter jobs. Yes, we also had 2 small children when I was laid off. Brooke was born in 1987 and Jordan in 1991. After grinding out several classes I finally landed a job at Progress Software out of Bedford MA in 1994, 18 months after getting laid off. What a relief! During the layoff my kids were a key source of my motivation as well as my wife for getting back in the workforce. Shortly after starting at Progress I decided to take advantage of their tuition reimbursement benefit. I can’t really say why but decided to look to another educational institutions before decided on Bentley. I didn’t have a timeframe for graduating as I was more focused on taking on more challenging roles at work to earn more money so we could one day buy a home as we did in 1999. My kids were a primary source of any free time I had so taking an occasional evening class was all I could handle for a long period of time. For this reason my journey perhaps took longer than most others. Luckily for me my journey also has a happy ending. After countless years of taking one class per semester I finally received my Bachelors of Science in Management in 2013 at the ripe old age of 58. You may ask yourself did this old buck simply pick up his degree on campus or have it sent to the house. Hell no, I proudly walked with all of those younger students and perhaps a handful of other that had a journey similar to mine. I remember that feeling of exhilaration when going up on stage and my family members cheering when my name was called. I made sure that I never gave up on my dream to graduate. I felt it was important that I show my kids that anything was possible if you never give up the dream. I came from a very loving family, but of meager means so I often had to find my way through life without their support and guidance. Who knows, what if we were affluent. Is that a guarantee that I would take advantage of the opportunities that would have been available to me? I’m wise enough now to know that the answer is no. Ones path is not predetermined. You have to blaze your own trail in life. With me the trail was long but filled will wonderful memories. Sadly, my mom and dad had passed before I graduated so I was not able to share this achievement with them. However, I know they would be very proud that I was the first (and only) child of the 7 to obtain a post high school degree. I worked hard in all of my classes albeit some were tougher than others. I did anything it took to get a good grade and just fell a bit short of graduating with the highest honors. By graduating Magna Cum Laude and with a High Distinction in Management it still shows my kids that there are rewards for your determination and perseverance.
I want to thank all of my professors and staff (especially Jane Ellis) as they always treated me with affection and understanding. Bentley is a wonderful school and I feel blessed to be part of its extensive alumni.
Thanks for letting me share my story and hope that you all fulfill your dreams. Remember; persevere until the dream is achieved. Never give up!