Nicholas Bauer’s junior year at Troy Athens High School marked the beginning of a long and challenging road that left an indelible mark on his future.
“My father passed away when I was 16, which posed numerous problems, such as financial distress, less moral support with only one parent, and many other challenges,” Bauer said. “My whole life changed instantly.”
Despite the new challenges facing him, Bauer moved forward, completing high school and enrolling at Wayne State University. “My passion for Detroit connected me to Wayne State, allowing me to witness the revitalization of Detroit,” he said. “It’s also really a great location all around, with the Mike Ilitch School of Business being located right next to the Little Caesars Arena, where my favorite team plays – the Detroit Red Wings.”
Facing the financial demands of a college education, he explored many work options just to pay the bills.
“Without my father’s income, our family moved below the middle-class level, so I knew that it was up to me to finance my education,” Bauer said.
The 22-year-old Troy resident worked two jobs during the majority of his college career, and took on a third job at one point. When the pandemic hit, a new set of challenges emerged that required him to pivot quickly. “I lost my full-time job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which created added financial stress. The lack of employment began to interfere with school and my daily life, and I began to worry about meeting my future goals.”
Bauer kept pressing forward, balancing his academic load, work, volunteering and family life while maintaining a 3.83 GPA. Four years later, on May 5, he will receive a bachelor of finance degree from the Mike Ilitch School of Business during the virtual commencement ceremony.
The momentum will continue on May 10, when Bauer begins working full time at the world headquarters of Penske Automotive Group, where he has served as an intern during the last three years. He holds the distinction of being the youngest employee at the headquarters.
“Working at Penske Automotive Group has been a great experience, and it’s exactly where I want to be at this point in my career. I have always admired Mr. Penske personally, and his business model.”
Looking back over his four years at Wayne State, Bauer said he is thankful for the support extended to him from the faculty and administration at the Mike Ilitch School of Business, noting that their assistance helped him complete this phase of his journey.
Bauer added that personal resolve was a key ingredient to achieve academic success.
“Regardless of what obstacles I was confronted with, I was focused on getting good grades and exemplified a significant amount of perseverance to finish my degree. My personal determination and grit are key components to achieving the first step of my American dream.”