For more than a dozen years, the APRO Charitable Foundation has annually provided scholarships to rent-to-own professionals and their families. APRO members have contributed generously to the APRO Scholarship Fund – awarding 447 scholarships totaling $1,001,750 to date – empowering students connected with RTO to pursue college degrees and successful futures.
Arkansas native Brayden McCauley – one of this year’s 29 deserving APRO scholarship recipients – is, according to one of his high-school teachers, “a wonderful mix of steely determination and lighthearted fun … with a quick, sharp mind [that] moves easily between the STEM fields and the humanities.”
McCauley, 18, opted to flex his strength in mathematics as a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering – with a minor in entrepreneurship – at the University of Arkansas.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for the STEM field, and since I love working with my hands and problem-solving, I feel sure I’ll succeed in mechanical engineering,” McCauley notes. “I hope to land a job at an automotive company, designing new technologies for cars.”
Brayden’s dad, Ben McCauley, has been the General Manager of EAKER LLC, dba Castle Rental in Rogers, Arkansas, since before Brayden was born.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand how important and critically necessary rent-to-own is for hundreds of customers, and just how positive and impactful it can be,” attests Brayden. “Many good people lack the means to obtain the furnishings, appliances, and electronics they need from a retailer, and RTO provides an easy, flexible solution for them that most people value and appreciate.”
It was this understanding of rent-to-own that spurred Brayden to talk about it to a new friend in need.
Brayden remembers when the friend’s family moved into his neighborhood, “they didn’t have much. Only an old sofa, a coffee table, and a couple of mattresses. I had quickly become good friends with their son, so I told them about RTO.”
The family desperately needed a refrigerator, washer/dryer, and bedroom furniture, so they went to Castle and within 24 hours, they had the items in their home. They have since paid off and own the appliances and furniture, and have rented and paid off many other items, as well.
Brayden says learning to give and receive help has been one of the largest life lessons he has learned in his young life.
“I used to believe perseverance was all I needed to succeed, and I could achieve anything on my own,” recalls Brayden. “It took years of consistently falling short of my goals for me to understand that no one really achieves great things entirely on their own; we all need others to encourage us, challenge us, and help us grow. Truly successful people are humble enough to recognize their own shortcomings and struggles, and to reach out to people who can help them overcome.”
Brayden has worked hard to be one of those helpers. “As an academic tutor, I’ve helped others achieve in advanced mathematics,” he notes. “Through a Big Brother mentorship program, I’ve been an encourager to an 11-year-old kid who really needs a friend. And through my own fitness group, Summit Bodybuilding, I’ve helped other teenagers gain not only a higher level of physical fitness but also a much more positive self-image.”
For Brayden McCauley, his APRO scholarship is an essential assist in filling a financial gap that will let him graduate as a debt-free Razorback.
“When I’ve needed help, I’ve not hesitated to ask for it from those who were willing to provide it,” he concludes. “And I am the better for it.”
Brayden’s is one of the dozens of positive stories that generous donations from the RTO community make happen each year. Click here to learn more and contribute to this invaluable industry effort.