Stories

The Vol State Family- George Shifflett

George Shifflett - Vol State alumnusWhen George Shifflett was young, he heard a common refrain from his father, but it didn’t have any significance, other than loving humor, until years later.

“My father used to say I talked a lot as a kid, Shifflett said. “He said I was going to be a lawyer someday.”

Thirty years later, Shifflett is indeed a lawyer. His unique path from truck driver to attorney began at Vol State, but not before a disappointing start in higher education.

“When I was a kid I did the traditional thing,” he said. “I went to college and I goofed off.”  Shifflett married, had kids and did many jobs, even running his own businesses, before finally deciding to pursue a law career. He learned how to drive an 18 wheeler to help support his college studies.

“I hadn’t been to school in thirteen years when I went to Vol State. I was even on academic probation at first. While I was there, I was on the forensic team. That solidified my love of discourse and argument. Wanting to be a lawyer galvanized for me at Vol State.”

Shifflett was chosen for the prestigious President’s Ambassadors program at the College, an experience that he credits with building his leadership skills. His next step was transferring to Belmont University for a bachelor’s degree, and then attending Cumberland University for law.

“I remembering thinking at Vol State that there was a lot of stress with me working and going to school. By the time you reach law school, the stress has gone up even more. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. You just have to keep going.”

Shifflett was 35 years-old and the father of two children when he went back to school, so the enterprise was a family affair. His wife supported the family while George went to school. “I give a lot of credit for what I’ve been able to do to my wife, Diane. Sometimes you know the destination, but you don’t know how you’re going to get there.”

Receiving his law degree was a major achievement. But any lawyer can tell you it’s not the final step. You need to pass the state bar exam to practice law.

“It was tough,” Shifflett said. “It’s one of the harder tests to prepare for. It takes two days just to complete it.”

Shifflett passed on his first attempt. He now practices family and criminal law at Whatley and Associates in Columbia. “I had my first jury trial and that was awesome. My life is truly blessed.”

In the meantime, the career road is also starting at Vol State for other members of the Shifflett family. Well, actually, all of them.

“I’m a believer in community college. My daughter and my wife went to Vol State. My youngest daughter is going to Vol State in the fall semester.”

Shifflett’s dad has cancer, but he was in the audience to see his son graduate from law school. They still laugh about the similarities between the argumentative child and the adult lawyer.

“He usually makes particular note of how I attempted to get my way or prove my point.  I do the exact same thing in court nowadays, with slightly more finesse.”

For those who may be interested in pursuing a law degree, while starting at Vol State, the College offers a pre-law major in Social Sciences, although many students also focus on political science. Visit the Social Science and Education Division web page for more info: www.volstate.edu/socialscience

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