There was a time in Larry Watson’s life when he had exactly 38 cents to his name.  Today he owns a multimillion-dollar business And, he credits his success to his education at Moraine Valley Community College.

Watson, who owns Art’s Auto Rebuilders on the south side of Chicago, recalls a time when he needed to make a presentation in front of a group of bankers for his small business loan. He felt prepared because of his classes at Moraine Valley.

“The professors forced us to think on our feet during class discussions and taught us how to speak publically under pressure through the assignments in class,” said Watson. “There might not be a course in how to give a presentation, but the cumulative effective of being a student teaches just that.”

One class assignment in particular stands out in Watson’s mind.

“I took several business courses at Moraine Valley, but I remember having to do a series of bizarre reports for a presentation on cereal—yes, cereal,” said Watson. “Years later, those reports taught me how to run a multimillion-dollar company.”

Watson also fondly remembers the time his math courses helped him during a bank meeting.

“People moan and groan about taking math courses because they say they won’t use the math they learn in college, but trust me; you use it,” said Watson. “I was meeting with a banker, and as she was going over the numbers, I realized her figures were incorrect. How did I know this? Because I paid attention and learned from my college math classes.”

Since graduating from Moraine Valley in 1998 and opening and growing his business, Watson also pursued a bachelor’s degree, graduating from Saint Xavier University in 2013.

“I did well on my Moraine Valley education, but I wanted to achieve more,” said Watson. “But, the roots of all the good things I learned came from Moraine Valley.”

Even though Watson runs a successful company and performs services for clients like the City of Chicago, the United States Postal Service, as well as several insurance companies, he doesn’t forget his beginnings.

“I grew up in Chicago suburbs, lived in Alabama for a few years, and came back to Chicago with 38 cents in my pockets after I graduated high school,” said Watson. “Even though I found employment, I knew that going to college would only help me advance, and it did.”

Watson enjoys the success of owning a business, but he also gives back to the community. An active member of his church, he teaches religious education courses.