It’s been over two decades since Michael Lipscomb was a student the first time at Johnson C. Smith University. In 1989, with help from the Methodist Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, he enrolled in college. But, after two years and less than satisfactory grades, the funding was no longer available. He decided to enlist in the Army and then the Marine Corps, which led to serving two tours of duty in Iraq.
After his military career, Lipscomb worked in a logistics job for Honeywell Corporation in Germany but kept thinking about how a degree would help him advance within the company. He returned to the JCSU campus two years ago to pick up where he left off, only this time he was determined to finish.
Armed with the maturity and discipline he had developed over time, Lipscomb stepped back on campus as a veteran student to earn a degree in criminology. On Sunday, May 19 he graduated with a degree that he will take back to Honeywell overseas, where he says the job market in the logistics field holds promise for him.
When comparing his first time in college to the past two years, Lipscomb found learning easier with better study habits, today’s technology and resources like the writing center. “In 1989 only honors students had access to computers,” he says.
College life has presented fewer distractions for Lipscomb as an adult student, even as a resident of Mosaic Village apartments living with the younger students. He has occasionally played the father role, advising students about their grades. “I would say to the kids: those are nice shoes, did you pay for them? And when they said ‘yes’, I would say well, you see that D you just got in your course? You are paying for that too.”
Before he headed back to Germany to restart his career, Lipscomb said goodbye for the second time to one of his professors, Dr. Tom Priest, who taught him in sociology back in the 80s. When Lipscomb returned to take a criminology course two years ago, Dr. Priest remembered him in class. “Dr. Priest told me I had good potential as a student the first time but remembered that I was lazy,” Lipscomb says.
The two men said their final goodbyes after graduation. As Lipscomb headed back to Germany, Dr. Priest left campus for retirement after teaching for 30 years. They congratulated one another for a job well done.