Like His Job As A Postal Worker, McMasters Has Always Delivered During His GTCC Career

Published on: May 7, 2021
GTCC Student Bryan McMasters and North Carolina Community College System Academic (NCCCS) Excellence Award Winner.

Many Guilford Technical Community College students have probably mistaken Bryan McMasters for a postman as he hurried from class-to-class on campus in a full United States Postal Service uniform.

Little did they know, he was just like them: a fulltime student at GTCC.

It has been a long and winding road for McMasters to reach the verge of graduation from GTCC and matriculation to a four-year institute and potentially a law degree. To carry the postal analogy a step further, McMasters has always delivered during his GTCC career.

He has maintained a 4.0 grade point average every semester while pursuing a music business degree and an associates of arts transfer degree. For his productive, diligent pursuit of the two degrees, McMasters has earned the North Carolina Community College System Academic (NCCCS) Excellence Award.

“It (the NCCCS award) is incredibly gratifying because I came into the college as a non-traditional student concerned about how well I would perform,” said McMasters “Sometimes when you do what you are supposed to do and focus, it comes to you.

“When I got to GTCC, the very first semester, I had all As. The classes weren’t the most difficult. I didn’t choose the most difficult; I didn’t want to make it too difficult. But I still had all As which gave me a 4.0 and that had never happened to me. At that point it became a challenge to see how long I could keep it. Four years later I still have it with two degrees. But that all came from a lot of encouragement from a lot of instructors.”

College was an afterthought for the 42-year-old McMasters, way after his graduation from Asheboro High School in 1997. His post-high-school graduation plan was to head to California to make it big in the music business.

“There were two things I wanted to do then: live in California and be in music … I wanted to be a music producer,” said McMasters. “I suddenly realized how big the world is, how big California is, how big the competition is.”

McMasters said his early days in Los Angeles “consisted of trying to build a catalogue, not knowing where to go or who to meet, just trying to network. At that time, there was no Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook. You needed to get in front of people.”

McMasters’ first westward trip lasted about a year-and-a-half before he returned to North Carolina. After a decade of working normal jobs in the Triad area, he headed back to California and then to Atlanta, where much of the music industry had migrated by that time.

He was beginning to experience a modicum of success in Atlanta when tragedy forced a change of location. His father was involved in a debilitating accident and McMasters moved home to help with his care.

“It was such a devastating thing for us. My dad was a man’s man. He was a truck driver,” said McMasters, adding that many years later his father still needs constant care.

Ironically, McMasters had become a truck driver by that point in time.

“Initially I didn’t have any degrees or anything. If the music thing didn’t work out, I had the CDL (commercial driver’s license) to fall back on,” he explained.

This is where the postal worker’s uniform came in. He was hired by the United States Postal Service to drive one of their big rigs. He was still chasing a career in music when he wasn’t driving. Then he got married, had a child and life changed.

“I wasn’t chasing the dream anymore. I was trying to be more foundationally stable for my family,” he said.

In 2012, his wife began encouraging him to consider going to college.

“My wife was able to tell I was functioning but that was about it. She was going back to school and encouraged me to,” said McMasters. “I took a (GTCC) placement test in 2012 and did fairly well. But I was apprehensive. I hadn’t been in an educational setting since 1997, much less a collegiate setting. I sat on that placement score for four years … I had it but I didn’t start.”

Then he discovered the music business program at GTCC. It didn’t take much more prodding from his wife after that.

“She kept pressuring. She would say ‘I can tell you’re not happy; you need to go.’ When I found out about this program, I figured I could stay here and get started,” he said. “It (the program) had been around for a while, but I had no idea they had this program right around the corner from me.”

McMasters took basic classes early as he found his academic footing and gained classroom confidence. Then he jumped headlong into his concentration of classes.

“It has definitely been an eye-opener for me,” McMasters said of his music business classes. “There were a lot of technical things going on I wasn’t aware of as I learned of marketing and promotion and law. There has been such a dedicated, passionate group of instructors. These instructors have been consistently there, like a group of uncles.”

McMasters says he works at night and goes to school in the morning. “I have to give my wife credit. A lot of time with my son, she has had to shoulder because I was in school.”

That crazy work-school schedule is the reason McMasters is recognized as the guy in the postal outfit. Many days he comes to class dressed in his postal togs because he didn’t have time to change before starting work later in the day.

McMasters wasn’t far into his GTCC career when he realized he wanted more.

“I decided I may want to get a bachelor’s, so I had to double major. I started to reevaluate my approach to the music business. I decided I wanted to come at it from a business standpoint.

He also discovered along the way he has a knack for numbers and accounting, so he plans on working toward a bachelor’s in accounting when he moves to a four-year school.

“I didn’t know I would like accounting and didn’t know I would click with the law,” said McMasters. “They (instructors) inspired me incredibly to get my bachelor’s in accounting then pursue a law degree and try to become an entertainment attorney. That’s what GTCC and the instructors at GTCC do so well. They make you feel like you can do whatever you want to do.”

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