After enduring long nights of balancing work and studies, Cory Gray finally received his bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering technology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Dec. 17.
Gray chose to pursue this degree because he saw it as a way to challenge himself.
“Looking back at it, I didn’t want to spend the time and money to go through college to earn a mundane degree,” Gray said. “It gives me a sense of pride knowing that I not only earned my degree, but that I excelled in it.”
Making it to commencement day, Gray remembers the hardships that he faced to get to this point.
“My main challenge was work,” he said. “I’ve had to work full time my entire college career and that made getting my degree last a lot longer than four years. Thankfully, UALR has a lot of evening classes.”
Not only were the evening classes a great help, but Gray was fortunate enough to find an employer that would excuse him a few hours out of the day to attend classes.
“It can be difficult to find employers that will let you leave two to three hours, but I was fortunate enough to find that,” Gray said.
Although he carried a heavy load, Gray was able to see the positive in it all.
“I didn’t look at working all the time as a bad thing,” he said. “I was able to gain a lot of experience that led me to the position I’m in now at Jack Tyler Engineering Inc.”
Because of his degree, Gray’s marketability boosted and he was able to secure a better paying position with his current employer.
Throughout his experience at UALR, Gray was thankful to have his family to encourage him and motivate him until the end.
“Without my family, I would not have gone back to school,” Gray said. “I took a couple of years off to work more but I knew I had to finish my degree for them and for myself.”
Not only did he have family in his corner, but he also had his professor to guide him along the way.
“Dr. Pidugu and a lot of the engineering department made a great impact on my degree,” he said. “Dr. Pidugu was my advisor and he knew I worked full time. He really pushed me to find a better job that would allow me to take more classes in order to finish my degree faster.”
Gray says that he is thankful for the entire department. Whenever he needed anything, they were supportive.
As Gray bids his farewell to the university, he reflects on the importance of pursuing a degree.
“In today’s society, it’s almost mandatory to have a college degree if you want a good career that you’ll enjoy,” he said. “I want to be able to provide the best opportunities for my future children, and I do not believe I could do that without a degree.”