Timothy Branion was a manager at Circuit City when the company decided to close 155 stores across the country in late 2008, and he lost his job.
Branion, 32, of Valparaiso, decided to return to college to finish the history degree he started when he graduated from Valparaiso High School in 1997.
"I had initially majored in computer science, then changed it to history," he said. "I left school with just another year and a half to complete. I'd lost my scholarship and I couldn't afford to pay for it.
"It was the economy and the fact that I lost my job at Circuit City that sent me back to school."
Ready to work and get down to business, Branion enrolled at Valparaiso University in 2009. A senior today, Branion said he's a lot more focused now than he was 10 years ago. Technology also is a lot different than when Branion first began college.
"During my classes, professors reference online material. People can go to YouTube and see information. I have gotten very used to using technology for my classes. I use my iPhone and iPad to look up information," he said.
Branion, who is in the College of Adult Scholars program, is one of several students who will participate in Valparaiso University's International Program, studying this fall in China.
Hangzhou, China, is one of the university's Study Abroad centers. Zhimin Lin, director of Chinese and Japanese studies, oversees the program for students, and China is one of the university's more popular study centers. Branion also will study with Professor Kevin Ostoyich, who teaches in VU's Department of History.
Branion said the trip to China is a chance of a lifetime, and he's in a position to do it. "I don't know that this chance will ever come up again. I'll be taking three classes in China and staying on campus. I'll do a bit of traveling and learn about the culture there," he said.
Branion, who works full time at UPS in Valparaiso, maintains a 3.9 grade point average. He said his dream job would be to combine his love of sales and working with people.