Estranged from his family at 17, Jake Boyd put himself through Macomb Community College in suburban Detroit by working nearly 100 hours a week: 12 hours a day, six days a week, at a car wash, followed by four-hour shifts as a security guard at an apartment complex.
Homeless for a while, Boyd had to skip a semester when he ran out of money for tuition. It took him almost five years to earn his associate degree in law enforcement from Macomb, the campus where President Barack Obama announced his American Graduation Initiative in 2009, setting a goal of restoring the country to first place by 2020 in the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees.
Despite the hurdles in his way, Boyd has resisted the urge to quit on his goal of going on to get a bachelor’s degree this fall, “if I can squeeze some more pennies together,” and ultimately joining the Peace Corps.
Most students like him, however, do give up.