The Journey to a College Degree is not Always Easy

by Sarah Black | May 09, 2018
One graduate has taken a long road to get his degree.

Everyone’s path to a college degree is different. Some paths are fairly straight while others may take a series of twists and turns. The latter was Justin Lafleur’s path, but the Psychology major will earn a long awaited degree this Thursday from LSUA.

Justin began his college career 19 years ago at LSU as a Biology major before transferring to ULM to enroll in the nursing program. However, his mother’s death caused him to leave school without a degree. After returning home to help take care of his family including his sister and father, Justin enrolled in an LPN program so he could work his way through school. It was here that he met his wife and later became a dad to three children.

However, it wasn’t too long after the birth of his third child that he says his life began a downward spiral as alcohol and drugs began to take over his world. It was during this time that his family staged an intervention and Justin entered treatment at Acadiana Addiction Center where he stayed for four months. Following treatment, Justin worked as a dishwasher at T-coon’s restaurant in Lafayette for two years before a chance encounter at a crawfish boil helped put Justin back on a path toward a college degree.

While at the crawfish boil for alumni of Acadiana Addiction, Justin was offered a job as a technician before quickly being promoted to Admissions Coordinator. Today, almost four and a half years later, he is still at Acadiana Addiction working as the Alumni Coordinator.

During this time, however, he still had the desire and need to finish his degree, but says it was hard to do so while working and supporting a family at the same time. However, after looking online, Justin discovered that LSUA offered an online Psychology degree. Despite being, as he says, scared to death to return to school, Justin enrolled in his first college class in years. That class went well and Justin has gone on to finish the Psychology program using a combination of both online and on campus classes at LSUA to earn his degree at 37 years of age.

Following graduation, Justin will enter a physician’s assistant program in Shreveport and hopes to either return to Acadiana Addition to work as a PA or work in family practice or pediatrics.

On Thursday, Justin’s family will be in attendance to watch him walk across the stage and earn his degree. He says he hopes to be an inspiration to his children, now aged 12, 10, and eight and inspire them to know that anything is possible.