For a long time, Michael Upham, 33, of Glenside, thought attending college was “something other people do.”
A construction worker since the age of 18, he left the security of a long-held job and decided that attaining a degree was something that he would do as well. He will graduate Thursday, May 17, with a B.A. in Business Administration, specializing in Accounting.
“I had always regretted not going to college. I knew it was something I could do,” he said. “I saw the chance and I wasn’t going to let it pass me by. It was a lot of difficult coursework, but the biggest lesson I learned was to never surrender.”
He and his wife Joanne developed a plan that would allow them to both achieve their educational goals. She returned to school for her Master’s in Education. When she completed her degree, it was Upham’s turn.
“I quit my job to attend school full-time. Our five-year plan ends on Thursday,” he said with a laugh. “Joanne is a teacher, how could she not want me to go back? She said to me ‘The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step — just go for it.’”
Upham said he chose accounting because he always had a mind for numbers. A homeowner by the age of 22, “I learned how to do things from a practical point of view.”
Upham went on to become vice president of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting national honor society, at the Ambler Campus, coordinating a volleyball tournament that included area public accounting firms that raised $2,000 for the United Way. He was the first recipient of the Mary Wald Scholarship in April, given for his dedication to a business school organization.
“The university gave me an education. Programs like Beta Alpha Psi and the Center for Student Professional Development made me a professional,” he said. “I’ve been really humbled by the whole college experience, by how many people on the whole campus are willing to help you succeed.”