Michael Culp Named Board Student Scholar at Tri-C
U.S. Air Force veteran finds academic success after personal struggles
The summer of 2012 brought little warmth for Michael Culp. His father died that June following a grueling battle with lung cancer that Culp witnessed from a bedside seat. Weeks after the funeral, Culp lost the job he held for more than a decade.
The events staggered the U.S. Air Force veteran. He felt emotionally overwhelmed, mentally drained and lost. “I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I didn’t know where to go.”
So he turned to Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
After two stellar years at the College, Culp will serve as Tri-C’s Board Student Scholar this academic year. He will be sworn in at the Sept. 24 meeting of the Cuyahoga Community College Board of Trustees.
“Tri-C changed me as a person,” said Culp, 47, who lives with his 12-year-old son in Cleveland’s Broadway neighborhood. “It helped me to be my best and to develop into the person I am today.”
Culp grew up in Shaker Heights as the youngest of four siblings. He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1986 and — convinced he wasn’t “smart enough” to be college material — enlisted in the Air Force.
He served four years while specializing in electronics. Culp spent two of those years at a base in Panama working on a transmitter that broadcasts military radio signals throughout Central America.
After an honorable discharge in 1990, Culp jumped from job to job to job. He eventually settled in with a Northeast Ohio beverage distributor. He started out loading trucks overnight and advanced to a sales position.
Then came the summer of 2012, his father’s death and his sudden unemployment.
Culp turned to the federal Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) for a fresh start. VRAP connected him to Tri-C’s Veterans Upward Bound program as he prepared to enter college.
“Upward Bound gave me the confidence to succeed,” Culp said.
It shows. Culp has compiled a 3.94 GPA and has become a regular on the dean’s list since beginning classes at Tri-C’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland in fall 2013. He also earned state certification as a chemical dependency counselor assistant through classes at the College.
Culp is on track to graduate this spring with an Associate of Applied Science in Human Services. Afterward, he plans to transfer to a four-year school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.
His career goal is to help people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.
Currently, Culp works with the homeless at the Bishop William M. Cosgrove Center in Cleveland. He also volunteers at Open Door Baptist Church in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood.
Look for Culp to bring his passion for helping others to his role as Board Student Scholar, where he’ll serve as a bridge between Tri-C students and the board. He plans to visit all College campuses to talk to his fellow students.
“Being involved enriches you as a person,” Culp said. “I’m here to help students just like I was helped when I needed it most.”
September 15, 2015
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org