Novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote "you can't go home again," but Brad and Megan Perry, both 27 and currently residing in Phoenix, Ariz., would disagree.
The Perrys, Port Huron natives, are the first 2017 recipients of the Come Home reverse scholarship, courtesy of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and its donors.
The foundation awards recent graduates with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) degrees up to $10,000 to move back to St. Clair County to live and work.
The Perrys moved to Arizona in 2012.
"We graduated college, got married, and hit the open road," says Brad.
For the past five years, they have been teaching near Phoenix and living in the suburb Gilbert. They enjoyed living in Arizona, but are happy to be returning to Michigan.
"There's a lot that we both love about the Bluewater area," says Brad. "It's our home, full of family and friends."
The pair has been going on job interviews locally during spring break and hope to have jobs situated by the time they move back to St. Clair County this summer.
“We'll hopefully land teaching gigs and start helping out with the community," says Brad.
Megan plans to use her master's degree in biological sciences to find a way to affect change with an environmental conservation job. She wants to start a school club about conservation that will partner with the environmental education network, environmental services, or parks and recreation.
Brad hopes to work with any local theater group, such as the Port Huron Civic Theater, and perhaps start a creative writing group in the area. He has published stories online, and a book titled "Strawberry Hill" is about to be released by GenZ Publishing.
The Perrys first met at Fort Gratiot Middle School, and started dating during their senior year at Port Huron Northern High School. They then went on to Central Michigan University, where they both received teaching degrees. Brad graduated magna cum laude, and Megan graduated summa cum laude.
They are nostalgic for many places and people in St. Clair County.
"Driving under a ‘Port Huron' highway sign meant I was home," says Megan. "St. Clair County was a great place to grow up and has always held a special place in my heart."
"We are both foodies," says Brad. "Some of our favorite restaurants are Coney Island (both Ted's and Mama Vicky's), Cavis' Pioneer Pizza, Fuel, Freighters, Casey's, the Red Pepper, and more."
They are also looking forward to hanging out in community venues like Sperry's Moviehouse, Studio 1219, The Raven, and the Port Huron Library.
“Nostalgia aside," says Megan, "I see St. Clair County as a place of opportunity."
The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has had an overwhelming response to its introduction of the Reverse Scholarship in 2016. They currently have a budget of $30,000.
“This year, we are focused on getting to $60,000, and annually all the way to $100,00--eventually," says Jackie Hanton, vice president of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.
For more information on the foundation and how to apply for the reverse scholarship, visit http://www.stclairfoundation.org/funds/more/reverse_scholarship_fund.
After making Arizona home for five years, the call to return to Port Huron was hard to resist..
“It is home, simple as that," says Brad.