Ray Hammond, a 1993 graduate of Cleary University, truly is a “Cinderella success story.” He grew up in a working class community where few people completed high school, including his parents. They wanted the best for their son, but when it came to pursuing an education, they weren’t sure how to direct him. His father had enlisted in the Army and encouraged Ray to join the military where he could learn a skilled trade and make a decent living.
“I didn’t know what to do with my life after I graduated from high school,” he notes. “I was lost. “I didn’t know what steps to take toward college and didn’t even know if that was the right step for me.” He took his father’s advice and enlisted in the Navy.
After his tour of duty, Ray learned Ford Motor Company was hiring for skilled trade positions. Ray accepted a job as a Millwright, got married a few years later and started a family. He worked seven days a week to support his wife and three children.
He started thinking, “how can I support my family on the same income but work only five days a week?” Ray began exploring other opportunities at Ford, and there were many, if he had a college degree. “I had started and stopped college a few times through the years, but never stuck with it,” he admits. “If I wanted to get ahead, I needed to check that box (having a college degree). I still didn’t know where to turn to make this happen.”
Ray remembers driving by Cleary University when he lived in Ypsilanti (former location of Cleary) and decided to take a look. He met with an adviser and was happily surprised to learn his college credits, his years of service in the Navy and his work experience at Ford all would translate into credits earned toward a bachelor degree in business at Cleary. He could obtain a degree in less than two years!
“I was an older student (Ray was in his 30s when he started classes at Cleary) and a bit apprehensive about joining the ranks of college-aged kids,” he says. He talked with a friend who wanted to earn his degree so the two drove from Adrian to Ypsilanti once a month on a weekend to take classes. Online classes were not an option at that time.
In the meantime, Ray was working in an engineering department at Ford, and the other engineers hated the finance work that came along with the job. “I loved it!” Ray announces. Ford told Ray that if he got his degree, there would be a job waiting for him in finance, which gave him an even greater incentive to complete his degree from Cleary.
He got his business degree and the job he wanted at Ford … and so much more! Through the years, he received promotion after promotion, he traveled around the world to help launch new products and eventually retired from Ford. After a stop in Cincinnati with the Formica Corporation, he returned to Michigan for a position at General Motors (GM), where he was responsible for managing nearly $1 billion in budget planning every year. By the time he retired from GM, he was making a nice six-figure salary.
“All the doors opened for me at Ford and GM with my degree from Cleary!
“I can’t say enough about Cleary and what a difference it made in my life. Once I checked that box of having a college degree, the opportunities at Ford were wide open,” Ray says enthusiastically.
What he especially liked about Cleary was that his instructors had full-time jobs and taught classes in their profession. “They were living the role in the business world and sharing their experiences with us in the classroom,” he points out. “We were studying real life business case examples, not theory. The professors were working leaders in their industry. They all were great mentors dedicated to our success.
“If you want to complete your degree and you’ve had a few false starts like me, check out Cleary. They roll up a package that helps build a strong foundation for your education,” Ray notes. “And thanks to the GI Bill and some tuition assistance from Ford, I had very little out of pocket costs. It was such a great experience! I am grateful for what I have in my life, and I thank Cleary for that!
“I believe if you want to be successful and if you take the initiative, doors will open for you. Focus on your strengths, find a mentor, work hard and find what is right for you. Cleary did all that for me.”
Take charge of your future like Ray did – connect with Cleary University today! If you’re feeling lost or stuck in your career without that degree, Cleary can be your guiding light. Whether you’re a working professional like Ray, a parent juggling family responsibilities, or someone with a few false starts in education, Cleary understands your journey. Call 800-686-1883 to get started.