This was originally published on TheTimes-Tribune.com.
SCRANTON, PA, (June 24, 2017) — Online school Penn Foster expects more than 750 people to attend its commencement ceremony in Scranton this afternoon, including a distinguished Colombian alumnus and businessman who graduated from the school 60 years ago.
Vicente Ferrer-Martinez — who traveled from Columbia to attend the graduation — first enrolled with Penn Foster, then known as International Correspondence Schools, in 1948. Just 14 years old at the time, Ferrer-Martinez spent his nights studying after working 12-hour days while his family battled bankruptcy.
“I was studying and (working) at the same time,” Ferrer-Martinez said Friday, noting that by age 20 he had achieved the title of chief accountant at work, all while continuing his education through the mail. “All the knowledge I was receiving through ICS was helping me develop my job.”
Now a businessman, Ferrer-Martinez attributes much of his success to his ICS education and his personal tenacity. He completed his general commercial manager course through ICS in 1957 and, thanks to his education and work experience, became a certified public accountant one year later. In the decades since, he’s founded several businesses, currently serving as president of ARclad SA — a Colombian company he launched in association with Adhesives Research Inc. of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania.
“I want to give the students the message that they have a future,” Ferrer-Martinez said, adding that tenacity is often more important than intelligence when it comes to success. “With tenacity they can obtain what they want. ... I have known many people who have lost opportunities in life because they don’t have tenacity.”
While students now complete Penn Foster coursework online rather than by mail, Mark Slayton, Penn Foster senior vice president of student success, said Ferrer-Martinez is living proof that the school’s model works and that hard work and tenacity can translate to “tremendous success.”