In a private ceremony at the end of July, Brad Caron ’87, P’23 finally earned his Bryant diploma. “It’s been a long time coming,” says Caron, who walked with his class at Commencement in 1987, despite being two classes shy of earning his bachelor’s degree. Now, however, thanks to innovative, collaborative work with Bryant faculty and students, Caron has completed his degree — and in the same year as his son Dane ’23.
Back in 1986, during Caron’s junior year at Bryant, he received a phone call from his father, who owned a six-employee technology company called Signet. “Listen, I’m going into the hospital for 30 days,” said his father. “I need you to come into the office tomorrow. Open up the shop, get the techs out, then call me. I’ll tell you what to do next.” So Brad woke up at 5 a.m. and left his Bryant dorm to go run his father’s company in Quincy, Massachusetts.
For the next three weeks, Caron drove from Smithfield to Quincy every morning to keep the company running under his father’s instruction. “I was living in the dorm,” he says, “but working full-time.” He picked up stock, got the six employees on the road, and even brought payroll checks to the hospital for his father to sign.
After his father recovered, Caron did his best to make up for the coursework he missed, but he was only able to complete three of his five courses that semester. Then, during his senior year, Caron says, “I worked at Signet full-time Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I took all my classes Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.” Unable to fit the last two classes into his busy schedule, Caron says Bryant allowed him to walk with his graduating Class of 1987, but his degree remained incomplete. “And then,” says Caron, “my father and I started our adventure of growing Signet.”
Thirty-six years later, Signet has grown to a 160-person company with three offices around New England. His father passed away in 2008, and Caron is now president and owner of the company. “I kind of forgot about it,” says Caron of his two missing classes. “I put it in the back of my mind.” Dane, the youngest of Caron’s four children, enrolled at Bryant in 2019. Soon after, a member of Bryant’s Advancement staff paid Brad a visit, and, when she learned his story, she reached out to her colleagues on Bryant’s faculty to inquire about setting up a special program to enable Caron to finish his degree.
“It’s like one chapter is closing and something else is starting for me.”
With the support of the university’s academic leadership and under the guidance of Director of the School of Health and Behavioral Sciences Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., and lecturer Robert Massoud, Caron engaged in a custom independent study, which included designing internship programs for Bryant students in health and behavioral science and business management, for which both he and the student interns received course credits. The program proved successful, beyond the requirements of the course, and Caron says he plans to continue bringing in Bryant interns in the future.
When Caron was ready, Bryant organized a special ceremony to present his degree. President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., and other Bryant faculty and staff were in attendance, as well as Caron’s mother, Patricia; his wife, Barb; and Dane, who surprised him by taking the afternoon off and driving to campus for the celebration. “I feel humbled that everyone is here to recognize me and congratulate me,” said Caron after the ceremony. He says the degree comes as he has begun to step back from Signet and think about retirement, so he is excited for what the future holds. “It’s like one chapter is closing and something else is starting for me.”