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Loss of job allowed him to pursue his passion
May 16, 2014
Aubrey Fletcher of West Warwick has always been passionate about computers. He said he remembers his mother sitting him down with an Apple IIc, watching "War Games" and growing up with a love of all things digital.
When he got older, that love translated to an interest in website design and, eventually, software development. But although he had what he calls that "spark of passion," he still hadn't found the environment that would "nurture that spark into a flame."
That would come later in life. After beginning college, Fletcher took a break from school, choosing instead to work at Foxwoods and then, later, in retail in Warwick, where he wanted to make a home with his then-fiancée, now wife, Melissa. After being laid off by Sam's Club when the company closed the store to renovate and relocate its Warwick operations, Fletcher's wife and grandmother-in-law sat him down for lunch – and an inspirational talk.
"They basically told me I needed to do something that I loved, and that was computers. So they said I should go back and get my degree in computer science," he said.
Now, Fletcher, 31, is graduating from the Community College of Rhode Island with a degree in Computer Programming, a 3.53 GPA and as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He said that above all else, it was the pursuit of his passion that enabled him to do so well at the college, and that kept him pushing forward despite the intellectual and organizational challenges he faced during his time here.
Though he suffered a devastating loss of his father-in-law after his first semester at school, and celebrated a wonderful addition to his family in the birth of his daughter, Giselle, last July, he has persevered, managing to carve out time for himself wherever he can.
"If you really want to go for something, nothing can stand in your way. That's the mantra I've lived by," he said. "I have a clear and conscious focus, and I have inspiration in my wife and daughter."
In addition, Fletcher said he has gained inspiration and motivation from CCRI itself, particularly crediting the Access program for his successes here. He said that the program helped him by "getting me a tutor when I needed one, being my rock when I needed one, especially during my hardest days after the passing of my father-in-law."
Through it all, Fletcher's lessons have extended far beyond the classroom. Although he made sure to give credit to the people and programs that have helped him along, it's through his own initiative and involvement in the college community that he's been able to make his way in the world both off campus and on.
When he's not in the classroom or spending time with his family, he has devoted time to both the Amateur Radio Club as president and vice president, as well as the Access Trio club as a member at large. And he said he feels as though he's gotten back just as much as he's given, "a hundredfold."
He said, "I've learned that I am much more than I thought I was. I've gained a voice. What I mean by that is that I'm able to speak for myself. And to think so much more analytically than I ever thought I could. And I'm a part of something big."
For Fletcher, his present accomplishments are certainly significant. But it's not just the idea that he's going to be a college graduate that puts a smile on his face, he said. Looking to the future, he wants his daughter to be able to be proud of him and, after he walks across that stage, she will have even more reason to look up to her father.
"My daughter can say, 'My dad went to college, and I can do that. I can take that road,'" he said. "That's something that no one can take away from you."
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