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'You can do anything you want'
Within five years, Spotsylvania County man goes from being a high school dropout to a corporate trainer with two college degrees

 The past few years have been 'like a whirlwind' for Michael Pulley, son Jackson and wife Amanda. Pulley juggled multiple jobs while pursuing two college degrees, and Jackson, 4, had surgery for a heart murmur.
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Date published: 12/29/2012

By CATHY DYSON

Michael Pulley went from being a high school dropout to a corporate trainer with two college degrees, including one earned with highest honors.

When he decided--three years after high school--that he needed a better education, the Spotsylvania County man underwent an arduous schedule to get it.

He worked full time--juggling as many as three jobs at one point--and maintained a full-time class load. He attended Germanna Community College, then the University of Richmond.

In the midst of all this, he and his wife, Amanda, both 26, became parents to Jackson, who was born with a heart murmur and needed surgery.

Jackson is 4 now and doing fine. It's his parents who have to stop and catch their breath when they think about everything that's happened in the last five years.

"It's like a whirlwind," Amanda said. "When you're going through it, you don't know how you're going to do it, but once it's done, you look back and realize what a big accomplishment it was.

"It shows you can do anything you want if you work hard enough."

BORED IN SCHOOL

In high school, Michael was smart and did well on tests, Amanda said. The two had classes together at Massaponax High School, but never dated, and Michael eventually moved near Richmond.

She was on one side of the motivational divide, and he was on the other.

She graduated a year early, in 2003, and he dropped out in his senior year, in 2004. He was two credits short of graduating and didn't want to go to summer school.

Michael was too bored to do the required work in class or at home.

"I just didn't care about school," he said.

Michael thought that full-time work as an auto mechanic would be more rewarding.

After three years of tearing down motors and rebuilding transmissions, Michael realized how exhausting the work was. He believes being an auto mechanic is "a noble occupation," but wanted something else for his life.

FEAR OF FAILING

In 2006, he and Amanda started seeing each other, and Michael hid the fact that he didn't have a diploma. His sister let it slip at a family gathering.

"He was embarrassed by it," Amanda said.


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INSPIRATION is an occasional series about people who encourage others with their kindness, courage or perseverance.