A physically challenging and stressful career as an electrician came crashing down when Mike Reilly underwent heart surgery for arrhythmia. He came out of surgery OK, but the future looked like a train wreck.

He was 34 with an 8 month old, a 7 year old, and no career or job prospects.

Mike did what a lot of industrious men and women do when their life stalls. He gave it a jump start with a new educational strategy: He would go back to college, starting at Pikes Peak Community College, and get a degree in computer science.

After his first year, he scored a summer internship at PayPal paying about $6,600 a month. Mike’s now getting his bachelors of science at Regis University, and, when he gets out, he’ll have a job waiting for him at PayPal.

He couldn’t have done this reinvention of himself, he says, without Pikes Peak.

“They act on their slogan: ‘Student succeed at PPCC,’” he said. “It’s more than writing on the wall - it’s something they’re very serious about.

“For me, the greatest challenge was math. But I used a math tutoring and the math lab. My instructor genuinely cared about whether I understood the material, whether I totally got it, and she was available before class, after class, whenever I needed."

Then, of course, getting such an invaluable internship, set him on a career course he hardly could have imagined.

“What an exciting opportunity,” he said.

Do students succeed at Pikes Peak Community College?

Ask Mike Reilly.