Former U Of A Custodian Graduates With Civil Engineering Degree

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Courtesy U of A University Relations, Russell Cothren

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — After 13 long years, a former University of Arkansas custodian has graduated with a civil engineering degree.

Chris Shapley started at the U of A as a custodian, waxing floors and cleaning carpets all over campus, according to a university news article. However, he’s leaving as an alumnus with a job offer.

Shapley worked full time when he went through the engineering program. For six years, he manned the graveyard shift while taking engineering classes and studying during the day. He also added a math minor, saying he wanted to take advantage of every opportunity.

He said he never brought homework to his job, because he didn’t want to compromise his work ethic. He studied when he got off work in the mornings, and then slept for 4-5 hours later in the day.

Shapley received a tuition discount for being a staff member, but he was also awarded a Staff Senate Scholarship for three years.

Over the years, Shapley advanced through his consistent hard work. He rose to become the supervisor of the Building Services Project Team and eventually to coordinator, where he had a crew of about 10 people.

In 2012, he earned the honors of Employee of the Quarter and Employee of the Year. Then in 2015, he became facilities manager for the Walton College of Business, and was awarded the Staff Rookie of the Year for Walton College and the University of Arkansas.

Shapley graduated in December, and he’s now leaving the university for Oklahoma. He accepted a job with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which promised that he could pick his preferred area of concentration and help him obtain his master’s degree.

He said he’s sad to leave the University of Arkansas, which he’s called home for the last 13 years.

“It’s been a long journey – and a lot of long nights – but I wouldn’t trade it if I could,” Shapley said. “Sometimes with challenge and hard work, you get more reward out of it. I guarantee you – no one was happier than I was when I walked down that aisle and got my diploma.”

Shapley was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and was the first male to graduate with a high school diploma. He said his family encouraged him to go beyond physical labor, and they taught him the value of hard work.

“Chris demonstrates that when you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” said Teresa Waddell, secretary of the Staff Senate. “It’s sad for us to lose him, but we’re excited that he’s moving up.”

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