Zack Ware tried college when he was 19 and failed all of his classes.
Six years later, he is one class shy of his Associate of Science in Engineering at Tidewater Community College.
“When my daughter was born three years ago, I had a new reason and drive to go back to school and do better,” Ware said
Ware spent his early 20s waiting tables and taking landscape jobs but realized he needed a better way to provide for his family.
Stumbling across a guidebook on drafting software at a yard sale, he studied it for six months, and after passing a skills exam landed an entry level position with a local company. His co-workers motivated him to return to school.
“When I came back to TCC it was really hard at first,” said Ware, who will transfer to Old Dominion University to work toward his bachelor’s in civil engineering. “Sometimes I’d set an alarm to wake up at 3 a.m. to finish homework or study for classes. I learned to take each class one assignment at a time.”
Ware earned his TCC degree debt free, as his company paid a portion of the tuition, and scholarships covered the rest. His favorite professor, Courtney Steele, who teaches chemistry, wrote letters of recommendations for a trio of scholarships that helped. They are the Virginia AeroSpace Business Scholarship, specifically for students transferring in engineering; the Michael J. Finch engineering scholarship; and the Barnes & Noble textbook scholarship, which covers textbook costs.
“I know I’m having an impact on my family even now,” Ware said. “Last month, my 3-year-old picked up a notebook, scribbled, and told me proudly that she was doing homework. I know she is watching and learning great lessons from my example.”
In his free time, Ware enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife, Kenyon, and daughters, Emery, 3, and Adrian, 4 months. “I love being a dad. That’s what got me to take school seriously and is the reason for my success.”