Man graduates after 30 years

About 20 years stretched between what should have been John Haver Jr.’s senior year at the University and the seven or so years it took him to graduate once he did go back.

As a student in his mid-50s, he doesn’t fit the description of a traditional college student. He has life experience and responsibilities that reach far beyond the classroom.

According to Haver, this made him “older and wiser” and made his second experience at the University better.

He added that a lot has changed at the University since he returned to school.

“There are more instructors now,” Haver said. “There were more professors with graduate assistants then.” He noted that before he never saw his professors, but this time around his professors, like John Sinn, technology professor, were very approachable and willing to help him when he needed it.

“The faculty cares more about the students now,” Haver said.

According to Sinn, Haver was “a very hard worker and not afraid to dig in and get things done,” which is what people who take his classes need to be. Being “older and wiser” was another thing Sinn noticed about Haver.

“He’s a natural leader, well organized, mature and not afraid to work,” Sinn said. “He’s everything you’re not when you’re 18-years-old.”

But Haver wasn’t always this way, especially when he began his college career at Ohio Northern University after spending three years in the Army.

He spent many weekends that semester hitchhiking between Bowling Green and Ada.

“At the time, Ada didn’t have much fun, so I would hitchhike to see my friends,” he said.

Haver decided to transfer to the University because his friends were in the same program he was, Industrial Education, and it would save time and money.

While at the University, Haver took part in some of the typical college student mayhem.

“I remember one year running down Main Street with a pumpkin on my head for Halloween,” he said.

However, Haver lost his focus during his junior year and decided to leave the University to begin working.

The experience he gained while working in the field would be to his advantage when he decided to return to school.

Despite this advantage, Haver faced a different set of obstacles as a non-traditional student.

According to Barry Piersol, assistant to the dean in the College of Technology, non-traditional students can have an even harder time navigating the red tape of the University than traditional undergraduate students.

Another obstacle that many students face is time management.

Haver took one class each semester so he wouldn’t be “bogged down,” while working 50 to 60 hours a week and juggling his responsibilities as a husband and a father.

“I tried to take evening or online classes so I’d only have class once or twice a week,” Haver said.

However, like many other students, it was sometimes hard for Haver to motivate himself to go to class.

“It was easier to go straight from work to class,” he said. “I still had the adrenaline from work if I did that, but if I went home first I’d start to unwind and it was harder.”

Sometimes Haver had classes during the day. Because he worked varying shifts at Whirlpool in Findlay, sometimes Haver would leave work to go to class and then go back to work after to make up the time he had missed.

“A lot of my hours didn’t transfer, so I graduated with around 180 credits,” Haver said.

According to Haver, the staff in the Technology Department was helpful in waiving classes. They took his job and life experience into consideration and gave him credit for it.

“It probably knocked two years off,” Haver said.

After he quit Whirlpool, he worked at a few other places before he started working at Defiance Stamping, where he works at a tool room manager. He’s been at Defiance Stamping for about three years.

Because he was no longer working at Whirlpool, he had to start paying for his classes on his own. He took some of his classes, like physics, at Owens because it was cheaper.

“My cap and gown were the cheapest things I’ve ever gotten from the University,” Haver said.

The dedication of the faculty, especially in the Technology Department, to students like Haver was one of the things that helped him get to graduation day, which was the high point of Haver’s college career.

“It was hard to believe I was finally done,” he said.

His family was very proud of him as the only one of four children to graduate from college. His mother, wife, children, brothers, sister and mother-in-law to see him walk across the stage to get his diploma.

However, Haver ran into one small problem with graduation. He needed nine tickets so that everyone would be able to go.

After getting bounced around from department to department, Piersol and his office staff were able to help.

“We were very happy to help him,” Piersol said. “We always try to do as much as possible.”

Now that he has graduated, Haver will continue working at Defiance Stamping and will also be teaching apprenticeship classes part-time at Northwest State Community College.

“I’ve always wanted to teach, especially with starting out in Industrial Education,” Haver said. “Now I’ll finally get that chance.”