Thursday, February 20, 2014

Featured Learner Series: Father of three goes back to college for his family

DAD GOES TO COLLEGE: Captain Xavier Beaufort went
back to school for himself and his family
“You know how you say to yourself, why didn’t I do this sooner? Well, I’m saying that to myself. I should have done this [enrolled in a college degree program] a whole lot sooner, so I’m glad that I’m doing it now, while I still have the energy, drive, and time to do it.”

That’s according to Captain Xavier Beaufort, husband and father of three, 20-year veteran working within the Philadelphia Prison System, and Criminal Justice student here at Peirce College. Xavier’s hard work, determination, and can-do attitude toward earning his degree have made him our next Featured Learner.

Xavier was born and raised in the West Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. He graduated from Germantown High School and went right into the workforce, with the intention of continuing his education after getting a few years of work experience under his belt. However, he found that it was more difficult than he thought to get back into school while working full-time and raising a family.

After starting work at the Philadelphia Prison System in the early 1990s, he rose to the rank of sergeant in 2004, which sparked the drive to continue climbing the career ladder within the system. He made it to the rank of captain in 2011, but to continue on, he needs to have a college degree. With 16 more years until he can retire, Xavier knew he had to make the move to go to college – but he wasn’t quite ready.

It wasn’t until his younger brother, a lieutenant in the Philadelphia Police Department, decided to go back to school that Xavier got the push he needed. He attended a college fair at City Hall and saw Peirce’s booth. While examining the other schools in attendance, he knew he was looking for a school that had name recognition and broader course offerings.

He met Steve Bird, Program Manager, Institutional Partnerships from the College at the fair. “He was a real nice guy,” said Xavier. “He was my Peirce connection and he just made me feel like this was the school I wanted to attend. I applied that day, right there with him.”

Xavier enrolled at Peirce in January of 2013, entering our Criminal Justice Studies degree program. He plans to earn his associate degree and then continue on for his bachelor’s. “I think I started an engine where I want to keep going,” he said. He’s taking one class per session, and fluctuates between on-campus and online classes, depending on his schedule.

He’s enjoying his program, learning information he can immediately apply to his job. “I went into the program with the thought, who could tell me more about criminal justice when I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years?” he said. “But, I was wrong. You know, I’m learning a whole lot more that I didn’t know.” Earning his degree is making him better-rounded in his position and helping him manage his responsibilities more effectively.

He’s also found support from his professors and peers who understand that he’s balancing supporting his family and a full-time job with his studies. “We help each other out, meeting each other halfway,” he said. “I thought it would be hard for me, being a 41-year-old man going back to school with a lot of young kids but there are a lot of people my age as well. So that fear went away immediately.”

Once he finishes his degree, Xavier hopes to use it to move up in his current job. He’d also love to consult one day, and having a degree coupled with his extensive expertise would give him more credibility in that position.

We asked Xavier if he has any advice for other working adults who might be considering going back to school, but aren’t sure if they’ll be able to handle it with their other responsibilities. He not only provided one tip – he had three!
  1. Erase the fear. “I think that anyone who has been out of school for a long time has a fear of going back or starting over and thinking that we can’t do it,” he said. “I think you can erase that fear. The curriculum helps you. It doesn’t hurt you. And I think that’s the first step in going back.”
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Utilize all of the services that the school has to offer,” he said. “They’re here to support you in your journey”
  3. Don’t put it off. “In this day and age, the key to a good position in almost any profession is education,” he said. “I think now, everybody needs to seek some type of further education in your background. So don’t wait to get started.”
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Xavier, and good luck in your classes at the College!