Students in field

From Motorhome to Tiny Home

July 12, 2019

Justin Woolever Builds Home

It’s often said that less is more, and when it comes to homes one Finlandia University student found no exception. Justin Woolever, senior physical therapist assistant (PTA) major, took his future into his own hands and chose to build himself a home while attending Finlandia.

“My house is originally a 1973 Dodge Sportsman motorhome,” said Woolever. “A buddy of mine actually had the idea to turn it into a tiny house, instead of just a motorhome.”

Woolever, a transfer student from St. Ignace, MI, had previously lived in dorms and found that he wanted the security of owning his own home.

“Throughout my life, I’ve faced numerous struggles with homelessness and just my home life,” said Woolever. “I wanted to make sure I would never be homeless again.”

He took it one step further, and chose to build his tiny home from the bones of the motorhome he purchased.

“I didn’t run into many obstacles building my house, just had to learn how to actually build it,” said Woolever. “Mostly I had to manage my time as a work study, getting ready for the (football) season and try to get the house done before school started.”

While learning to build a home came easy, it didn’t come without help. The same can be said for Woolever finding his way through the struggle of putting himself through college. 

“I have independently put myself through college, but I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that without the help of the financial aid team at Finlandia,” said Woolever. “They went the extra mile and helped me find scholarships and even put me in touch with Michigan Works to get a job. I’ve been so thankful for them, and it’s motivated me to work hard.”

Most students struggle with financial health and stability, and as a society we accept the stereotype of the “broke college student.” However, Woolever believes that learning to manage your finances is something you should learn in college.

“No matter what, as a college student you have to be able to manage your finances,” said Woolever. “It’s the first time you’re really in charge of your financial situation. Building this house and owning a home definitely made me realize that sooner than most students.”

Along with being a student and homeowner, Woolever is on the Finlandia football team. His character and grit is noticed on and off the field by all.

“Justin personifies SISU,” said Travis Wiltzius, head football coach and neighbor of Woolever. “His determination and grit is what makes him a good football player and a great person. I watched Justin build his home all summer and he attacked that project like he does on the field with relentless work ethic and a get-it-done attitude.”

At FinnU Woolever found not only a place to compete and learn, he found a place to help him grow into the person he wants to become.

“I’m a transfer student, and at my previous university I was just a student getting my education,” said Woolever. “At Finlandia, I feel that I’m learning to help people.”

This article on Justin Woolever originally appeared in the Spring 2019 Edition of the Bridge magazine. If you would like to receive your own copy of the Bridge please visit our publications page. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be releasing digital copies of all stories from that publication. Read more stories from this edition of the Bridge. 

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