WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (CNN) – A Massachusetts bus driver says going to college and working was too much for him seven years ago, so he dropped out. This time around, he’s got a lot more motivation, thanks so his students.
Clayton Ward, 30, is not your traditional college graduate.
“I was a burnout,” Ward said. “I went to Liberty University in Virginia, burned out of school, work, it was just too much for me.”
Ward moved to Massachusetts, where he landed a job as a school bus driver. After seven years of driving 200 children a day to and from school, he says he’s learned something about himself.
“I’m a very patient person, but you learn a lot more patience with them,” Ward said.
That patience led to conversations with the children, which then led to a bit of inspiration when they told him “you should be a teacher.”
“And so, that like kind of hit home for me, and then finally I was like ‘You know what? I want to go back to school.'”
Ward didn’t just go back. He excelled at Mass Bay Community College.
Despite the disruption of a pandemic, he is graduating as one of the top students in his class with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“I got awards now for academic excellence, which is only given to six of us graduating this year,” Ward said.
The humble bus driver doesn’t like to talk too much about his academic accomplishments, but says what he learned from those children on their way to school every day is that it’s not really about how you get there.
“We all come from different walks of life. One may dress different, one may act differently, but we’re all the same,” Ward said.
In the fall, Ward will be attending classes at Framingham State with the goal of eventually becoming a high school history teacher.