Hometown: Moody, MO
Currently Resides: West Plains, MO
Occupation: Technology Support Specialist, Missouri State University-West Plains
All Degrees: Associate of Arts in General Studies with an Emphasis in Computer Technology
“My experience at Missouri State University-West Plains was life changing.”
Going off to college for the first time isn’t just for recent high school graduates. With nearly 40 percent of Missouri State University-West Plains students falling squarely in the non-traditional (over the age of 22) category*, Missouri State-West Plains is dedicated to making sure higher education is affordable and accessible for everyone.
Heath Lair was one of those non-traditional students. To date, his greatest professional accomplishment is being the first person in his family to get a college degree.
“I like to use the analogy of a telescope,” Lair said. “In the beginning, I could see things off in the distance, but everything was unclear, like it was out of focus. The more classes I took, the more focused I became, and the more clearly I could see the path before me.”
Lair knew he wanted to do something with computers, but was unsure in which direction he wanted to go. All that tilted when he took an internship in the Information Technology Department at Missouri State-West Plains. “That helped me to make up my mind,” he said. ” I loved every minute of the internship! Every day was a new experience.”
“Everything I did at Missouri State University-West Plains affirmed my belief in myself, that I could do anything I wanted if I set my mind to it.”
Lair chose Missouri State-West Plains because of the evening classes offered. Like many non-traditional students, he had a full-time job and a family. That left him very little time to further his education.
Without the ability to take evening classes, he said, it would have been impossible to reach his goals. Now, he works as a Technology Support Specialist at the same school that helped him achieve those goals.
“Obtaining my degree has given me the tools to get a job that I truly love. I believe that loving what you do encourages others to do the same. It’s very contagious,” he said. “If you want to change your life for the better, get an education. Learn to earn!”
*Fall 2017 Student Census