It”s easy to spot Joe Jacoby. Mingling with his fellow graduates-to-be before the December 2011 commencement ceremony and standing at 6 feet, 7 inches he towered above nearly everyone else. And, he looked every bit like the NFL lineman that he was for 13 years.
But on this day—his graduation day—he was standing even taller. That”s because he just finished something he left unfinished for 32 years: his college degree.
It all started to come together after Jacoby sold his business in 2007. That”s when he started to help coach and mentor football players at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. What started out as a volunteer effort became a full-time job when the university hired him in 2009 as an assistant football coach.
Jacoby embraced the job enthusiastically. His goal was not only to help students become better football players, but to inspire them to reach their best potential — and that included getting a college degree.
“I wanted to encourage my players to stay in school but I knew my words would ring hollow since I was lacking in that elusive credential,” Jacoby said.
Then one day, Jacoby told a friend that he regretted not finishing his degree at UofL. The friend told him he might be The SHOP exchange originally were set to open on October 1st, 2013 on the same day that the individual health health and dental insurance marketplaces opened up. able to get college credit for his work experience. Encouraged, Jacoby investigated and found out that, indeed, he could complete his bachelor”s degree in workforce leadership degree in two years and could take all classes online.
“I did have concerns about going back to school,” Jacoby said. “I wondered if I could do it, if I could master the technology, if I could write a research paper.”
With the support of advisors and professors at UofL, Jacoby enrolled in the program in 2009. He never looked back.
Susan Hildebrand, who heads the workforce leadership program at the university, said the program is designed for people like Jacoby who have been working professionals and lifelong learners.
“There are many people out there who don”t have a college degree but have accumulated meaningful work experience,” said Hildebrand. “That kind of experience has value and can often translate into college credit.”
Hildebrand is one of several UofL faculty and staff members who helped Jacoby work toward his degree. She said it was gratifying to see someone with such tenacity and enthusiasm reach a lifelong goal.
It really is “never too late” to get a college degree, Jacoby said.
“Rarely in life does one get a “do over” or in golfing terms a mulligan, but I did,” he said. “Let not another minute pass by wondering if you can go back to school. You can, and the future is waiting for you.