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'You can do anything you want' page 2
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.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/29/2012

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She encouraged him to get his GED, equivalent to a high school diploma. He was so afraid of failing, he didn't take the test the first time it was scheduled.

When he decided to go through with it in 2007, he worked with Linda Govenides in Stafford County's Alternative Education Office because Spotsylvania classes were filled.

"He passed with flying colors," she said, and she encouraged him to keep going with his education. "He put his nose to the grindstone and held it all together and kept getting fantastic grades."

PLENTY OF SETBACKS

The young family faced plenty of setbacks.

Three days after Jackson was born, in March 2008, Michael went back to work at his mechanic's job--and got laid off.

Work was hard to find in a struggling economy.

"No one was interested in hiring a high school dropout," Michael said.

Because of Jackson's heart problem, the young family had to have insurance. They got coverage through COBRA, an expensive plan paid through Michael's former job.

It cost $900 a month--more than the couple spent on rent at the time. The Pulleys had to move in with her parents, Jeff and Rosanne Rainville.

Michael already had started at Germanna by then. For several months, he got up at 3 in the morning to load packages on post office trucks, then worked full time, sealing and striping parking lots.

At night, he went to school.

He earned his associate's degree in general studies and a certificate in general education in August 2010. He made the dean's list four of five semesters.

He was excited about a bachelor's degree program through the University of Richmond. It was designed for working adults and held on Friday nights and Saturdays at Germanna.

There weren't enough applicants when he applied, and he was told to try the next year.

Michael was too eager to wait. He asked if he could attend classes at the Richmond campus and was admitted.

"I didn't apply myself in high school, but once I got a little bit more mature and got started [in college], I definitely wanted to keep going," he said.

PLATE WAS OVERFLOWING

At the "U of R," Michael's ability to focus on extensive reading and writing exercises was put to the test.


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