It’s never too late to go back to school. Lanny Hall had to put his studies on hold years ago, as his pursuit of a degree in physics turned nearly impossible with his full-time job at Xerox. Hall, now a Customer Engineer, never stopped thinking about education, and in 2009 he knew it was the right time to go back to school. This time, however, he had an option that would give him the flexibility to study without sacrificing his job responsibilities — a degree from Florida Tech.
As he finishes his Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems — and with retirement not too far away — Hall looks back and explains how a young, history-making politician made him realize that it was time to complete his dream of higher education.
Q. What person or people inspired you to go back to school?
A. The primary inspiration was former President Barack Obama. I remember the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘50s and ’60s, and I am amazed that 40 years later this young man could achieve the goal of becoming President of the United States. I think he did an outstanding job, and he’s a testament to what you can achieve with a college education.
Q. How did you decide it was the right time to go back to school?
A. This was always on my bucket list. My two adult children have left the nest, so I knew it was time for me to achieve the last of life’s goals. I’ve worked in this industry and watched it evolve over the past 30 years, so I have a natural interest in the field.
Q. What kind of support are you getting from your friends, family and coworkers?
A. Everyone was always supportive, although, at times, my wife of 45 years felt a little neglected — but she was always understanding of my goals. Unfortunately, I now have a very large honey-do list to perform from here on out!
Q. How does higher education fit into the American experience?
A. I’m afraid that in a modern society, higher education is no longer an option; it is a necessity. Those who don’t pursue it will simply fall further behind. My observation is that America has a great deal of catching up to do, and the university system is a way to build bridges to those opportunities.
Q. Your job is very demanding. How have you balanced work and school?
A. Work and study have been a constant challenge. However, it can be achieved. It takes a great deal of devotion and focus, and a bit of luck at times.
Q. What have been the advantages of a 100% online education for you?
A. I majored in physics 35 years ago, when I first came to work at Xerox. Unfortunately, the demand of work was not compatible with the university schooled, so it became nearly impossible to balance classes. Fortunately, the online method of learning has been a practical solution to manage the logistics of work and study.
Q. What advice would you give to people who are already established in their careers if they are thinking about going back to school?
A. I think it’s no longer optional: If you’re going to keep up with the demands of the modern job market, you’re going to have to continue pursuing higher education. The demands of modern business are moving rapidly, and so is technology. The skillsets are only going to be achievable through the educational process.
Q. Once you have your degree, what do you expect to do?
A. I’m close to retirement. However, I think a college education gives you a lot of insights and opportunities. I have been collecting string for a book for the last eight years on online learning, and intend to publish the book describing my experiences with a litany of do’s and don’ts, and placing it in the public domain for those who may want to pursue the same goals.
Q. What’s one fun fact about you?
Even though I’m 63, I’m still passionate and a kid at heart. I grew up with the space program, and I’ve always had a passion for the goals, ambitions and diverse cultural contributions of the men and women who made it achievable. We sent men to the moon and returned them safely, and that is still as amazing now as it was then.