Student keeps promise to himself: learn
One student has found education, friendship, Christian support and healing while attending Southern Wesleyan University in North Augusta.
For years, Jasper Brown said he had found excuses not to complete his higher education.
"I had promised myself that I was going to finish college. My girls had finished, my wife had gone on to trade school, everybody was established and here I was with a high school diploma at 52 years old," he said.
So, in July of 2004, Brown began his higher education at Southern Wesleyan University. So far, he has earned his associate's of science in business and his bachelor's degree in management. Next, Brown will tackle the master's in management degree.
"I'm looking forward to finishing the master's program," he said. "The master's is like putting the icing on a cake."
As an adult student heading back to the classroom, Brown said at first he was worried about going back to school.
"I was nervous, scared to death. I didn't know what it was going to be like," he said. "It was hard, that first couple of weeks. Then everything just began to fall in place."
Brown describes his lack of a college education as a wound and says that his classes at Southern Wesleyan University have healed that wound.
"What I've found is a school that embraces you, encourages you, that counsels," Brown said. "The most important thing is the Christian perspective. I had tried going to college before and it just didn't seem to work out. I think the one thing that was missing was that Christian perspective."
Brown works at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
"I began my employment there in 1980 as a clerk," Brown said. Since then, he has been a mechanic, supervisor, facility maintenance manager and now is a liaison between existing services at SRS and new projects being established in the community. He has worked there nearly 30 years.
"My career at SRS is about to end," Brown said, referring to his upcoming retirement. "I believe that completing the master's program will open the door for some other opportunities."
One of the skills Brown has taken from his classrooms to his workplace is improved writing ability.
"One of my very first instructors was an English professor. Now writing has become a way of life for me," Brown said. "I have grown quite fond of writing. It has been a big help in how I communicate as a manager."
The professors in the adult program at Southern Wesleyan University were inspiring to Brown, he said.
"Since they had actual career experiences that they could share, it made what they were teaching come to life," he said. "This has been just a wonderful opportunity."
Sharing class time and study time together gives classmates a special bond. At Southern Wesleyan, Brown says he has made friends that will last a lifetime.
"Each one of my classmates brings something different to the table," he said. "We share everything from A to Z." Brown is the elder of two sons. He was born in Ward, S.C., in Edgefield County. He and his wife of 20 years, Sarah, have two daughters and attend Mt. Anna Missionary Baptist Church in Aiken.
Brown is eager for other to experience higher education as he has.
"Right now it's second nature to encourage others to come back to school. Anybody can make an excuse and that's normally what it is, an excuse. We can all find some excuse."
But pursuing his college education was a promise he needed to keep for himself, he said, "This was something that I owed Jasper."