Keith Taylor, 56, knew it was time for a career change when his position as an office supply salesman fell into jeopardy.
“I was a straight-commissioned sales representative in downtown Chicago, and constantly prospected for new business opportunities in the tall office buildings,” he said.
“But the big box stores penetrated the market place and undercut the prices of the many family-owned businesses in the industry. Unfortunately, my company was bought out.”
The DeMotte resident began college at 18, but did not finish his first semester. “I wanted to finish what I had started and I wanted to be more competitive in the current job market,” he said of his return to academia.
Taylor began taking online courses from New York’s Excelsior College, focusing on administration and management studies. He graduated in 2010 with an associate degree in liberal arts and earned his bachelor's in liberal studies last March.
“I have accomplished a lifelong goal and achieved my vision, and a sense of pride and confidence is evident in my recent employment interviews,” he said. “My degree has opened doors that would normally be closed in this tough recession.”
Taylor’s determination has inspired his son, Dan, to remain steadfast in his own studies.
“Dan has mentioned that my example has inspired him to continue with his education and passions in his own career path. He thought about dropping out many times, but saw my determination,” Taylor said.
For those thinking about returning to school, Taylor offers simple advice.
“I would advise them to look internally and ask the most important question: Can I look myself in the mirror each day knowing that I could have finished my degree with a little self-discipline?”
“Get mad at yourself and take yourself to task. Do something about it,” he said.
Taylor plans on next receiving his master’s degree in management, and hopes to work in a managerial role.
“I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to management. I would love to express the good as a manager by accentuating the dignity of each person and the potential for greater achievement in each employee.”
Taylor enjoys visiting shut-ins and hospice patients to bring encouragement, and teaches an adult class at American Reformed Church in DeMotte, where he and wife Lisa attend services.
To nominate someone for this feature, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.