Adult Student Success Stories — George Shifflett
Three colleges and fifteen years of work experience and now George Shifflett thinks it’s time to get serious about school. And he means really serious. Vanderbilt Law serious. But let’s go back for a moment and visit those first attempts at college. George went to Virginia Commonwealth University, Washington Bible College and finally Germmana Community College before dropping out altogether in 1991.
“I was young and didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself,” he said. “I was suffering from academic fatigue. The main reason I went to school was that it was expected. It was not from personal choice.”
George went into the working world, trying to find his niche. That took him down a lot of different avenues, including a few years as a musician in a country band. He toured all over the east coast before deciding it was time to hold a steady job.
“I sold everything from vacuums door-to-door, to insurance,” he said.
He also drove trucks. In fact, it was trucking that provided the real family income. He even bought two trucks and started his own small business. But there were things lingering in the back of his mind: finishing that degree and supporting his family. George is married to his wife Diane, and has two daughters, Lauren and Claryssa.
“I thought about my daughter. If I value education and I want her to have an education, then how am I going to pay for it? And having driven a truck, it drew into sharp relief my desire to be educated.”
George went back to school, attending Volunteer State on a part-time basis. He soon found that wasn’t enough.
“I realized I had a taste in my mouth for it. You could call it a love for learning.”
The decision to return to school full-time is a big one and a married person doesn’t usually make that decision alone.
“We both agreed it would be a huge commitment on both our parts. It was very much a joint decision. We agreed that we would have to have a plan.”
George tackled school at Vol State on a full-time basis. He intends to get his degree and then keep going and then going some more.
“My parents always used to tease me. They said I loved to run my mouth and so if anything else I should be a lawyer.”
He hopes to get into Belmont or Western Kentucky and then take that education to law school. And not just any law school. He has his eyes set on Vandy Law.
“It’s a tough one to get into. I think it’s not a stretch at all. It’s a myth that the only way to get into Vanderbilt is through a private school.”
If he realizes the dream he will be at least 39 or 40 before he graduates from law school.
“I try not to think of it in terms that I still have five years to go,” he said. “I think of it as one step. You don’t climb stairs a full flight at a time.”
George works as a Presidential Ambassador. It’s a program that allows him to build his legal communication skills, by giving tours on campus and speaking at public events. He has a deep voice and a big smile that quickly convinces you that he will make one good lawyer.
He says the long winding road of his early college career and wide ranging work experience has only made going back to college, well easier.
“You’d be surprised how easy it is. There is plenty of hard work involved. But at this point in my life that’s an easy thing. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to an 18 or 19 year-old, but for an adult I think they understand.”