John Lambert debated coming to Queens for months. "The hard part was actually stepping through the door for the first time," he said.
Good thing he did. Three years later, he's excelled in his classes and is set to graduate with a degree in Business Administration. "It's going to be a great day, a lot more special than it would have been 17 years ago," said the Charlotte native. "My daughter is going to be there, and I think that is probably going to be the most important thing as an example. And, my parents are going to be there, and I think this is something they've been wanting to see for a very long time."
When he enrolled in Hayworth College for Adult Studies, Lambert thought he was simply finishing what he started at Duke University 14 years earlier, and getting a credential helping him be taken more seriously in the family construction business. But, Queens had more impact than he ever anticipated.
"I quickly realized that the actual curriculum was priceless," he said. "I started applying the things I was learning...in the business immediately. It [also] really helped me organize and motivate myself, and increased my confidence in everything I did."
He vividly remembers being intimidated about starting back, but says he ended up feeling right at home in his classes, a majority of which he took at night. Yet, recalling that initial apprehension he joined Hayworth's Student Government Association and developed a mentoring program for new students. "It's to provide new folks with a friendly face to ease their transition, which is tricky for adult students."
Some 30 students have taken advantage of the program since it began this year. "It's our hope that these partnerships make the transition to Queens a little easier," said Allison Sigmon, a Hayworth Academic Program Coordinator.
Having Lambert on the SGA has certainly made a big difference for Hayworth too. "John is an activator," Sigmon said. "He's not just someone who comes up with ideas, he's the one making the plans and implementing them. He's reliable, realistic, and a great decision maker."
Lambert says he often now encourages others to come back to school. "Just do it," he recommends. "Everything that you're worried about will kind of melt away."