New Castle News

Schools

May 21, 2014

Setbacks no deterrent to achieving diploma

NEW CASTLE — The morning David Fye picked up his graduation cap and gown was a meaningful one.

True, he had to squeeze it in between work, school and family.

But he has been doing that balancing act for the past two years in order to receive his associate’s degree tomorrow from Butler County Community College, Lawrence Crossing — the first member of his family to graduate from a college.

Fye, who majored in human resources management, was selected as an outstanding student by the school.

It’s been a long road.

The 35-year-old New Castle resident graduated from Lawrence County Career and Technical Center in 1997, where he studied data processing. For 15 years, he dedicated himself to one job.

Then the bottom dropped out. Fye and his co-workers found themselves out of work when the company where they worked closed abruptly

“It was devastating to lose my job,” Fye said.

Once he came to terms with the loss, he talked about his future to his family, friends and partner of nine years, who helped convince him to return to school.

“I have a lot of good people in my life who are so supportive, and I also wanted to prove to myself I was capable of going outside my bubble.”

He knew Diane DeCarbo, director at Lawrence Crossing, and “she was a big influence in why I went back to school.”

Fye started taking classes in August 2012.

The first three semesters, he went to campus but had to switch to an online format when some of the courses he needed weren’t offered in the classroom.

“Being out of school for 15 years makes it harder to re-teach yourself to study and learn.”

After unemployment ran out, he received an internship as a human resources assistant and worked in retail as a manager.

It was a struggle and there were sacrifices. He took out student loans, cashed in his 401K earnings and “downsized my lifestyle.”

He even considered dropping out.

But Fye hung in there.

This semester, while working 70 hours a week, he took five online classes, maintained a GPA of 3.98 and appeared on the President’s List the past three semesters.

Fye said the teachers at BC3 were fantastic and helpful.

“BC3 offers a great, nontraditional atmosphere. This opened up a whole new world and gave me more confidence.”

Since January, he has been a supervisor and human resources intern at a paper and glass recycling center in East Palestine, Ohio. That involves getting up at 5:30 a.m., coming home, doing classes and homework from about 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., catching four-and-a-half hours of sleep and then doing it all over again.

The company told Fye they would love for him to stay. He may also consider at some point working toward getting a bachelor’s degree at an area college.

DeCarbo said Fye is a standout student graduate who has demonstrated exceptional qualities including leadership.

“In addition to balancing work and school responsibilities, David was always available to participate in student events and activities.”

“It was quite exciting to finish one era and start a new one,” Fye said, “and it’s been a great learning experience and a self-recognizing journey.”

Everything he has gone through the past two years has been has all been worth it, he acknowledged. 

When Fye takes his place on stage with 30 other graduates from Lawrence Crossing, it will be the moment he has long waited for.

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

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