John Crowell is proof that it is never too late for a new beginning.
This month, the first-generation college student will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor's in electrical engineering from Colorado State University.
But his path to success has not been easy - or linear.
Crowell is experiencing college the second time around, while raising his year-old daughter, Ellen, with his wife, Dana.
"John is an excellent student who works very hard," said V. Chandrasekar, University Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "And he does it with a cute baby on his lap."
Raised with grit on a farm in southeastern Colorado, Crowell graduated from Plainview High School in 2001 in a class of 13 students. Propelled by his interests in tinkering and problem solving, he left his small community to pursue a degree in engineering at Colorado School of Mines.
But after two semesters, he had a change of heart. "I decided college wasn't my thing," Crowell said.
Fast-forward two decades, and Crowell has come full circle with a new perspective and maturity that comes from living life. He credits Dana for inspiring him to enroll at CSU and take another chance at engineering.
"Over the past 20 years, I became fascinated with the rapid advancements in technology, and electrical engineering started to stand out as a potential career path," Crowell said.
Now, as he nears the end of his undergraduate education, Crowell's high-tech future is coming into focus. With the goal of moving into a management position quickly, he has already begun working toward his master's degree in electrical engineering through the department's accelerated IDP+ program. Bolstering his resume even further, Crowell is wrapping up a cutting-edge senior design project with Professor Chandra and Keysight Technologies that leverages the principles of the 5G network, the next generation of wireless technology.
Beyond acquiring knowledge to work at the forefront of innovation, Crowell says he values the people and culture at CSU. "I feel at home in a place with agricultural roots," he said. "It has been a lot of work, but my experience has been a big refresher in life."
That hard work has paid off. Crowell earned a 4.0 GPA and a position on the Dean's List, yet of all his achievements, he is most proud of his role as a peer mentor, tutor, and teaching assistant.
"While I'm older than my peers, I have enjoyed my interactions with students - we've struggled together," Crowell said. "Helping those who are coming after me has been really rewarding - it's the most fun I've had in college."