Image of Don DudleyThe proudest day of Don Dudley’s life was the day he showed his college degree to his mother. His life had taken some unexpected turns, but she had never lost faith—telling him that she’d always known he’d graduate one day.

More importantly, Don didn’t lose faith in himself—even after dropping out of high school.

“If I can change my life around to pull up out of the gutter and end up with a college degree, anyone can do it—just don’t stop believing in yourself,” says Don, who worked his way up to be an NLC instructor.

Because Don took the same courses as his students, he can help them work through the difficulties of being a tradesman or woman in the classroom.

A College OF and FOR Workers

People underestimate workers.They question our intelligence level and we beat ourselves up for it.  Fear and change are our biggest issues. But once I got going, it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” says Don.

Because NLC is a college of and for workers, teachers understand the specific challenges of adult learners.

“If it hadn’t been for NLC, there’s no way I would have finished my degree,” says Don, who earned his Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Labor Education and Labor Safety and Health.

His life-changing classes: Theories of Adult Learning and Teaching Techniques. Knowing how adults learn helped him understand his own learning style. He calls on the knowledge every day in his current career as an OSHA instructor at the NLC and as the Department of Transportation classes training director for the International Chemical Workers Union Council.

A Rewarding Road

The first time Don visited NLC, it was as a local union president with the American Flintglass Workers Union—now affiliated with the United Steelworkers of America. But it wasn’t until 1999 that he started talking classes. Four years later, he walked across the stage at commencement.

I was so proud. It was my accomplishment.

Don’t Ever Give Up

It’s never too late to go back to school according to Don. After 37 years in the labor movement, Don’s gotten the education bug again. He’s enrolling in the Emergency Management and Readiness and Response Management program.

Now that everything is online, it’s even more accessible.

A Lifetime of Learning

“I will learn until the day I die,” says Don. “Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to learn.”