Rome native John Adams was 45 years old the first time he stepped into a college classroom, and his 46th birthday was only a month away. Four years later, he has completed his second degree and is eyeing a third – thanks to Shorter University.
The former police officer who served for 21 years in law enforcement in Rome and neighboring Polk County said he’d always been “an average C student,” but with his son growing up, he had new motivation to pursue a college degree.
“Connor is the reason I wanted to get my degree,” Adams said. “I couldn’t preach to him the importance of education when I’d never gone to college. He was kind of the main reason I started.”
In 2011, Adams enrolled in Shorter University’s College of Adult and Professional Programs and entered the Ledbetter College of Business for his first night of classes. He’s graduated once already, with his associate’s degree, and on Dec. 15, 2016, at age 49, he received his bachelor’s degree in Sport Management.
“The first couple of months I wondered what I was thinking by going to school, but the longer I went the easier it became,” Adams said.
Adams began as a student in Shorter’s adult degree program, attending classes in the evenings after working a full schedule. “At one point I was mentally burned out, and I took a four-month break. Everybody I knew said ‘you won’t go back,’ but I did.”
A health crisis in his wife’s family led him to take a second break from classes, but Adams then enrolled in Shorter’s online programs with a new determination. “I took my second break in 2014 when my father-in-law had a stroke. When I went back, I said ‘No matter what, I’m not going to stop until I finish.’”
Adams completed his bachelor’s degree during the summer term of 2016, but officially graduated during the December Commencement ceremony. He’s considering beginning work toward a master’s degree at Shorter. “I think the MBA in health care management will be my next challenge.”
His latest degree has already helped him land his dream job as physician liaison with Floyd Healthcare. He markets Floyd Wound Care and Hyperbarics and Floyd Physical Therapy and Rehab in the communities of Rome, Cartersville, Summerville, Calhoun, Cedartown, Rockmart, Taylorsville, and Centre, Ala., and works to build relationships with local physicians and their staff. The position is the result of a journey of faith for the former police officer.
“After I left the police department, I was operations manager at Stonebridge for four and a half years. I loved the job and working with members and the golfing public, but the schedule was a strain on my family. I worked every holiday and every weekend and felt I owed it to my family to find something else.”
That ‘something’ he decided would be a position with Floyd Healthcare, a company for which he had great admiration. “I wanted to get my foot in the door so I took a position as a sports medicine rehab assistant making $10 an hour. Before hiring me, my boss explained the salary and asked if I was sure I was interested. I said, ‘I will take this job because I can see the big picture. I understand the salary, but I want to work for this company.’”
That step of faith was the first one toward the position he received this summer, just after completing his last course.
“The physician liaison job is the biggest payoff,” Adams said with a smile. “I think of all the hard work and late nights of typing papers. I remember going home and shedding some tears because this was the payoff. This is the best job I’ve ever had. I am so grateful to Shorter and the program the university offers. It creates a vehicle for people my age and older to get an education. It was such a blessing to me to be able to come to Shorter.”
Adams praises his experiences in both the on-ground adult degree program and the online program. “My experience in the entire program was amazing. I had great professors who were always willing to help in any way possible,” he said.
He added that his family – wife, Stacy, and son, Connor (15) – were also key to his success. “My wife is the backbone of this whole thing. She never complained about the time I spent working on papers and studying, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I don’t think anybody could finish without the support of family. And Connor is kind of the main reason I started.”
Adams is proud of his life’s journey. “I’m proud to be a home-grown product of Rome. I started out growing up in public housing and remember driving down the road and looking at Shorter College. To have this university right here in my hometown, it makes it so much more valuable for me. I represent our university proudly.”
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.