What does it take for a young person to stick with it through college graduation? We decided to ask a few of our most recent college grads — who took different paths through college, at different institutions — about their journeys through college. Read an interview with Tyler Johnson below, and click here to connect with stories of other Common Ground alumni. 

Where did you go to school? What did you study?

While still a student at Common Ground, Tyler talks with SCSU professor Andrew Smyth as part of college exploration program.

While still a student at Common Ground, Tyler talks with SCSU professor Andrew Smyth as part of college exploration program.

First I went to the University of Hartford for about a year, then I jumped over to Gateway, where I got my my associates degree. I’m now at Central Connecticut State University studying Mechanical Engineering Technology.

After I left the University of Hartford, I realized I may have jumped into school too fast. I couldn’t really keep up with having to maintain my own schedule at first. The first half of the first term I went to my advisor and he set up my schedule. Unfortunately, two of the classes that were on the same day was about 10 minutes away from each other in terms of time but they were across campus in the middle of winter. So after a 3 hour class, I had to run across the campus just to get to my other class and honestly after that I told myself never do that again. It was just a bad idea. But, if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be managing my schedule well now.

What experiences at Common Ground helped you succeed in college?

It’s been a while since I went to Common Ground as a student but for me the biggest thing I can remember is the teachers never giving up on the students. If they noticed some of the students having trouble they would help them get through their struggles. I just like how persistent they were. Not to mention most of my favorite teachers I have ever been with are at Common Ground. Period!

What advice do you have for other Common Ground grads who are struggling to stick in school?

My advice would be to find YOUR reason to stay in school. If you feel like there is no reason I would tell you to think about who you are going to school for. Are you trying to better yourself? Are you doing it for someone you care for? Find a motivator, something to get you going.

For me, that motivator is my family. The biggest people would be my mom and my aunt. I believe my aunt has a Master’s in her field, so she knows a lot about college. I would not be where I am today without my mother, straight up! She worked hard everyday just to make ends meet and honestly I just want to help her anyway I can. If me going to college is going to help her than I’ll stay in it. My mom is taking online courses right now whenever she can. & my little cousin is in high school and looking. I want him to go to very good university or community college. So those people would be the ones inspired me to keep going.

I’m really proud that my mom is taking college courses now. At the high school she went to, she never got the proper education that she needed, because of that she never felt like college was for her. Now she see me going and feels like ‘maybe I should better myself as well’ and actually asking me for help.

What are you up to post-graduation? What’s next for you?

I’m finishing my degree at Central now and then hopefully I can get myself a position to use all the skills I learned at the university for my career. Right now people need mechanical engineers. There’s a huge need for them. So I’m just hoping I can get a position where I can use all my skills.