A Triumphant Life

What would you do if you fall in the mud? Answer: “I just ride my bike.”

How old will you be next year? Answer: “I will be bigger and stronger.”

A Reinhardt University graduate might have had uncommon answers to questions when he was young, but this uniqueness helped him overcome obstacles throughout his life. He also credits Reinhardt as helping him become the success he is today.

Michael Goodroe was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. He had poor motor function, did not test well, and struggled with social skills. His parents were told he couldn’t go to school and had no chance for an independent life. Fortunately, his parents didn’t accept those limitations. They set achievable goals and activities. One by one he met them.

“My life has always been the tortoise and the hare. I was always leaps and bounds behind everybody else, but despite it all I gained a sense of persistence. I learned to never give up no matter what I wanted to do to achieve what I wanted,” Goodroe explained at a seminar, “I thought I could achieve greatness, that I could be anything I wanted, and I set out to do just that.”

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of West Georgia, he enrolled in night classes at Reinhardt University where he earned a Master of Business Administration in 2016. He wanted to learn the business side of owning a comic book company and Reinhardt was the ideal place for him to attain that goal. Due to Reinhardt being flexible with their admissions standards, he was admitted.

“Reinhardt University provided me with an amazing opportunity,” Goodroe says, “I dedicated time and energy to every class.” For 18 months, he applied the instruction in each class to his fictional comic company, including learning marketing, finance, and human resources. “I learned so much in this program, and it introduced me to the realities of owning my own business one day.”

His mother Joane Goodroe added, “It was a wonderful experience because that’s when it became obvious he had a strength in speaking… when he would do a class presentation he stood out.” Michael Goodroe agreed, “When I finished the program, I was prepared to add motivational speaking to my work life and began working on my book, What Autism Gave Me, A Devastating Diagnosis to a Triumphant Life.”

His heartfelt memoir was published in 2018 and still receives rave reviews. It documents Goodroe’s obstacles, objectives, and accomplishments in a powerful reminder that the will to achieve is stronger than any diagnosis. He reinforces the notion that attitude is a better predictor of success than IQ: Have a mindset that you believe you can improve and have supportive people around you to help you succeed.

Goodroe is now 35 years old and works in healthcare data processing in Woodstock, Georgia. He is also a motivational speaker, sings publicly, and has a third-degree black belt in karate.

Joane Goodroe wants people to know, “No matter what you’re up against, there’s hope. There’s hope for everybody. It’s not the challenges that define you, it’s getting around those challenges. You don’t have to be good at everything to be successful.” She also emphasizes how vital it is for parents to get their children tested for disabilities and find a workaround before frustration sets in. A diagnosis prompts schools to make accommodations such as longer testing time and help with note-taking. She says Reinhardt University was very helpful in understanding his way of learning and meeting his needs. “He’s made it to something I could never have imagined. He’d been pigeonholed as having a low IQ and I want people to see he has the ability. He’s a better public speaker than most people. It’s just amazing.”

Michael Goodroe concluded, “I am grateful for the support and encouragement I received from Reinhardt University’s professors.” In turn, Reinhardt is grateful to have been a part of Goodroe’s life journey.