Custodian Tonney Gazaway empties a trash can at the University of Arkansas. Photo: Andrew Epperson

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tonney Gazaway goes into classrooms at the University of Arkansas every day, but his ventures typically involve emptying trash cans and mopping floors. One day soon, he hopes to learn in those same classrooms.

Gazaway, 25, is a custodian at the university and works in the J.B. Hunt building on campus. He’s been serving in that capacity for a little over a month after he lost his job at the Fayetteville Public Library. He said he and another worker were employed part time, but his boss decided to terminate his contract in order to hire his coworker full time.

He said he was out of a job for about a month, right over the Christmas holiday, and supporting his wife and daughter became a difficult task.

Gazaway declined to disclose his exact salary, but he said the job as a janitor set him up for a 401(k) savings account, which was an opportunity he lacked in his prior jobs. He is a native of Starkville, Mississippi and moved to Fayetteville when his wife got a job at the alumni association.

Gazaway said while most people would never dream of being a custodian, he’s happy to be working in a “laid-back environment.” Still, checks are paid out every two months, and his family is just now starting to get back on their financial footing.

In the future, Gazaway hopes to enroll at the university and earn a degree, he said.

“I want to get into video game design,” Gazaway said. “I’ll work for any company. I know I’ve gotta get through some classes I don’t wanna take. But that’s what it takes to make it. You’ve gotta do things you don’t wanna do. That’s what I’m doing now.”

Some workers, including custodians, get a 90-percent discount on tuition, Gazaway said. Because of this, he hopes to enroll in Fall 2019 after saving up his money.