For Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, a 36-year goal was recently accomplished. After starting his degree in 1976, Lawhorne was only five classes short when he left NOVA in 1979. On May 12, he finally graduated from NOVA. In a June 8 article in the Alexandria Gazette Packet, he noted, “It’s nagged at me my whole adult life. Since I was 14 years old, I wanted to be a cop. When I was finally hired, I felt like I had gotten what I wanted. But quitting is the wrong message to send, to my family and to the young people that I talk to about careers.”
John Porter, Lawhorne’s seventh grade social studies teacher and eight grade crisis counselor, stated that his former student does so much to enrich the lives of people and the community that “It’s nice seeing him take the time to do something he’s wanted to do for years for himself.”
Lawhorne said it was definitely intimidating going back to school at 54 with his younger peers. ”Here they are with their laptops and iPhones checking Facebook while I am wearing out my No. 2 pencils.”
NOVA Police Chief Daniel Dusseau points out that Lawhorne’s success speaks well of NOVA’s services and accessibility.
Lawhorne highlights many of the challenges of his childhood. He credits key friends like ADP Bill Pickle who took an interest in him when he was a teen and his Del Ray neighbors Mary Jones and Marion Knoernschild, who looked out for him during difficult times in his life. Their loving but firm nudges helped to push him in the right direction.
Ultimately, he was able to reach his goals by hard work and the support of his wife, Linda, and daughters. Graduating with a 3.0 GPA and a degree in administration of justice, Sheriff Lawhorne is truly a NOVA success story.
Lawhorne said, “In the end, I knew that part of being a good leader was continuing my education. NOVA really is a great place and if I can do it, there is an opportunity out there for everyone.”
Congrats Sheriff Lawhorne!
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