Grit and determination
Ask college students what it takes to succeed, and more than likely their responses will vary. Phillip Tomlinson, for example, says he uses grit and determination in everything that he does. And it’s paying off.
“I struggled in high school to get what you’d call grades that showed I was ready for college,” Tomlinson said. “So my parents decided I needed to come to Johnson County Community College to get my ‘sea legs’ – basically to show that I would be able to succeed. I am glad I came here.”
Tomlinson explained that he finished high school with a 2.5 grade point average, but when he received his first grades from JCCC he posted a 3.25 GPA.
“I took that and paraded it around,” he said. “It was kind of like my tattoo. It showed I could succeed in a college setting, and all the doubts that people had with me in high school were thrown out the window.”
Tomlinson, who aspires to be a state trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol and is studying in the JCCC administration of justice program, said personable professors are one thing that makes a difference for him in his studies. One instructor, in particular, has made a big impact inside and outside the classroom.
“Frank Galbrecht, who I had for introduction to administration of justice in spring 2010, was one of the most influential instructors by far,” Tomlinson said. “He’s also the advisor for Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the criminal justice club on campus.”
He added, “Everyone in LAE, and Frank, took me in, especially since I had come from high school where I didn’t do the best I could. They all took me under their wing and sort of believed in me even when I struggled. They have basically brought me to the point I am now – a point where I know I can succeed and I have proven that I can succeed.”
The same grit and determination Tomlinson is using for success in the classroom is also helping him personally to achieve a weight loss goal, not only to improve his health but also to help him achieve his dream of becoming a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper. He went from weighing 310 pounds when he started at JCCC to less than 200 pounds.
“Throughout my life I had always been overweight and had low self-esteem,” Tomlinson said. “Now that I have gotten to where I am, I refuse to go back to where I was.”