By Shelby Longland, ‘13

After 25 years of working in the insurance industry, John Miers, C’13, was laid off from his job. Miers got the news a few months before enrolling in the University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies Weekend College program. Although he was already taking a few classes and planning on enrolling in the program, his perspective on his studies changed drastically when he found out he was no longer employed.

Being laid off is never an ideal situation. But Miers’ optimism and his enrollment in the University helped him make the best of his circumstance. Studying on campus helped Miers realize that his passions truly lay in the world of academia. Miers recognized that, although he spent many years working for the same industry, insurance didn’t have to be his life. After 25 years in the same industry he received some clarity, and his status as a student in SPCS helped him find it.

Miers was raised in San Francisco and always lived in urban environments. As a result, a change of scenery was one of the factors that helped him decide on the University of Richmond instead of Virginia Commonwealth University. After careful research, Miers decided that the academics, the cost, and the setting made Richmond a better fit for him. And he has never regretted that decision.

Miers loves being part of a tight-knit community, surrounded by intelligent students and professors on a beautiful campus. And he has found great fulfillment in his courses. The Weekend College program is tailored specifically to working professionals. Most of the students are older and have full time jobs. This leads to fascinating conversation, Miers explains. The students are able to incorporate their life experiences into their coursework, which makes lessons more meaningful.

And Miers is pursuing more life experiences with the extra time he has found without his insurance job. He started volunteering at the Richmond Main Library and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and was quickly offered a part-time position in the Membership and Development Department of the museum.

Although Miers knows he wasn’t offered the position solely because of his pending degree from the University of Richmond, he believes that having the School of Professional & Continuing Studies on his resume gave him an extra edge, especially since the manager of the department is a graduate of the Robins School of Business. Miers realized he was truly a part of an intimate community when the two were able to bond and discuss specific professors and classes that had made an impact on them.

When Miers first attempted to earn his bachelor’s degree, he wasn’t ready. But he never lost faith that one day he would fulfill his dream, and he always acknowledged the increasing importance of a college degree. So, when his youngest son graduate from college, his family encouraged him finally to take the next step and enroll. He feels fortunate to have found the Weekend College program, which fit his schedule perfectly and has taught him many lessons. He found clarity and direction at a point in his life when many others would have said “it’s too late.” 

Miers hopes to pursue a master of library science degree after he has earned his bachelor’s degree, and will continue to work and thrive in a scholarly environment, where he now knows he belongs.