Graduation is "going to be emotional," Fed Vautour says
Fred Vautour put all five of his children through private college – and it only cost him $3,000 per child per year.
That’s because for 15 years, the 62-year-old Waltham, Massachusetts, man has worked the graveyard shift as a janitor at Boston College – the same school each of his children attended.
Vautour, who began working at 14 years old and did not attend college himself, says it was the thought of his kids earning college degrees that kept him going as he mopped, vacuumed and swept the university’s Robsham Theater night after night. The fact of their father’s hard work – and the promise of free tuition – kept his kids working their hardest, too.
“When I started working at BC my oldest daughter was 13 or 14,” Vautour tells PEOPLE. “She decided she wanted to go to school there and that pushed her. She really studied as hard as she could.”
Vautour left his job in restaurant management to work as a chef at Boston College in 1994. He soon learned that as an employee of the college, he would be able to send his children to study there tuition-free (as long as they were accepted). This brought his family’s costs, which included room and board, down from $66,000 per year to just $3,000 as each child was also awarded scholarships.
All five of the Vautour children wanted to attend Boston College, and luckily for Vautour, all had excelled in academics and sports in high school so they were able to gain admission.
“My kids all applied to other colleges, too, because there was no guarantee they’d get in,” Vautour says.
When acceptance letters did arrive, the whole family would put on their finest university gear for family dinner and the letter would be framed on what Vautour calls “the BC wall” in his family’s home.
Next month, Vautour’s youngest daughter Alicia will become his fifth child to earn a degree from Boston College.
“It feels great but it’s kind bittersweet,” Vautour says. “My oldest daughter started here in 1998 and now it’s 2016 and my last one is graduating. In that much time I’ve always had a kid at BC.”
Graduation, he says, “is going to be emotional.”
Even after Alicia graduates, Vautour says he plans to keep his job at the college. “I love it,” he explains. “Working here makes me feel young.”