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Husband, father of two and ASU Online student proves you can earn your degree at any age

May 03, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Kevin Keenan began his college career in 1997 pursuing his passion for music and sports radio. As it often does, life stepped in between Keenan and his college degree, and he put his plans on hold to focus on working full time.

A few years after Keenan began working full time, his sister, who was also in college, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Keenan recalls that it was her fierce determination to graduate, despite her diagnosis, that later motivated him to go back to school and complete his degree.

After many setbacks, Keenan knew he wanted to give his family of four a better life. He and his wife discussed Keenan’s desire to go back to school and agreed that Arizona State University would be the best choice to pursue a degree, the online Bachelor of Science in communication. As a dedicated father and husband, Keenan is grateful for the flexibility ASU Online provided so he didn’t have to miss out on some of his favorite dad activities, including his son’s sporting events.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: My “aha” moment came a long time ago. I started attending college back in 1997, and I wanted to be on-air talent for a radio station. I’ve always loved music and sports radio. In 2000, I dropped out of college while working full time.

A few years passed and my younger sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She ended up beating it, finished college and got her degree which has, and always will be, a huge motivating factor for me to finish my degree. I work for a family owned industrial supply company and they provide 100% college tuition. Put those two together and I have the makings of me finally getting my degree.

I started to do my research about what schools to apply to. Having two young, active boys puts a damper on things and missing home time, so I started looking at universities that offered the flexibility of obtaining a degree online. After all the research, I ultimately chose ASU.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I learned at ASU that no matter where you are in life, you can always go back to school! It has not been easy by any means. Being a 41-year-old husband and dad with a full-time job has enough stressful moments. But the way the classes are structured at ASU is fantastic because you still have the flexibility to work on assignments and study, but there is also the structure of the classes and keeping you on track. The best of both worlds!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: The professors that taught me the most important lessons were Dr. Lauren Fletcher and Professor Brandon Ferderer. Both professors were nothing short of fantastic.

I took COM 207 a couple of years ago and didn’t understand any of the assignments and ended up having to drop the class. It was the lowest point of college for me. Last fall, I was about to embark on taking COM 207 again, so I emailed Professor Ferderer a few weeks before class started and kept in constant contact with him the entire seven and a half weeks which made me feel confident and prepared from beginning to end.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My best piece of advice is to never quit. I’m 41 and I’ll be walking the stage a day after my 42nd birthday. It just goes to show you’re never too old or too young to finish. Having a college degree is so important nowadays.  

Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study or to just think about life?

A: My favorite spot to study was the kitchen table because living in the Midwest and having the weather that we have doesn’t offer me the flexibility to sit outside all the time!

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel in my classes and now that my sons are both in sports, I can finally enjoy watching them play sports and not worry about homework I must finish. I will continue working at my current company where I have been for the past 13 years. It’s always nice to have that degree from Arizona State University in my back pocket though!

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would put that money toward helping our men and women that have served in the military. These people serve our country and deserve more than what they are getting as far as help and services when they make it home. To volunteer yourself to serve your country is one of the bravest things you could do.

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