James Keane describes life as a team sport.
“We don’t go through life alone,” said Keane. “What we achieve is not just us. It is us and everybody else who has made that possible. Yes, I was a part of it, but there were so many other parts that it couldn’t have been done if I hadn’t been part of that team.”
This mentality helped lead Keane to the University of Northern Iowa at the age of 51. Keane, who was born in Arizona and grew up in Australia, decided after spending two weeks in the middle of winter working commercial construction in Fargo, N.D. to make a change. So, he made a detour on his way home to New Hampton, Iowa, at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC).
The staff at NIACC helped Keane enroll in classes and apply for scholarships – which he received. After two years at the community college in Mason City, Iowa, Keane moved on to UNI.
“UNI has been awesome,” Keane said. “I wasn’t 100 percent convinced that I had the study habits and the right intellectual abilities to do what I wanted to do. When I got to UNI it was made clear right away with my advisor in the School of Education and it has continued with my advisors in Philosophy and with all of my instructors that we’re here to help you in whatever way we can. They have been great.”
Keane originally planned to become a math teacher, but has changed his major to Philosophy with a minor in literature and creative writing. He is now considering pursing law school after graduating from UNI.
Outside of the team of family, friends and professors that has made his educational journey possible, Keane had also relied on scholarships during his time at NIACC and UNI.
“My education wouldn’t have been possible without scholarships,” said Keane. “The money would have been the reason for me to say I could have done it, but it would have been too financially hazardous. The first scholarship forced me to go back to school and. then the Roy J. Carver Scholarship and the Jack Kent Cook Scholarship really enabled me to fully embrace and apply myself wholesale to education.”
Are you interested in helping students like Keane earn a college education? You can make a difference in the lives of students like Keane by visiting uni-foundation.org – just ask him.
“The biggest change in my life is that I’m hopeful that the world can be better,” Keane said. “I can’t say I was four years ago. That’s not just for my life. That is for my kids’ life and my grandkids when they come along if they do. I just feel like suddenly the glass is half full.”