VJ Kumar: Learning Has No Age Limit

VJ Kumar: Learning Has No Age Limit

Spotlight on REV/G3 Scholars

by Ambria Ingram / Reynolds REV Coach

Reynolds Community College prides itself on being the college "where outstanding careers get started!" After meeting VJ Kumar, we can also add "where outstanding learners make a difference!"
"Don't let your age stop you from going to school." VJ Kumar, Lifelong Learner.
VJ, a native of Dubai, India, is currently a student at Reynolds Community College and a vocal advocate of education at all levels. VJ is a student in the Pharmacy Technician Career Studies Certificate program for Fall 2021 and excelling in his classes. He told me that pursuing a college education was delayed due to family responsibilities, and assisting in building a start-up company in Dubai. Even so, at age 67, he did not think it was too late to pursue his college dreams.
As he told me during our conversation:
"It doesn't matter what age you are (when) going back to school, and it doesn't matter what challenges you are facing (when) going back to school. You can still pursue your dreams."
VJ believes that no matter if you have a career or job, "it's imperative to continue with your education to help you diversify in other high-demand career areas."
He has been in the financial consulting business for 17 years with other business endeavors. He is an entrepreneur operating an independent financial consultancy practice. His job entails helping individuals with retirement plans, annuities, life and health insurance, long-term care coverage, and education savings plans to ensure his clients' needs and goals are within their budget.
VJ is always looking for ways to diversify his skills and knowledge. While working as a financial consultant, he researched high-demand jobs and realized Cyber Security jobs would continue to increase, meaning qualified professionals would be needed. This realization led him to pursue Cyber Security classes in hacking, networking, and troubleshooting. Having this knowledge will enable him to be prepared if his company faces a cyberattack and gives him options with a different career if he chooses.
He took a break from his Cyber Security studies to work towards his Pharmacy Technician Career Studies Certificate. He wants to understand how medications could impact clients he works within his insurance business. "Acquiring the pharmacy technician training and certification also adds another career option," VJ said. He also feels this specialized knowledge gives him an edge over other insurance professionals in his field to understand direct knowledge of many of the medications and conditions his present and potential clients face.
VJ describes a college education as not a way to secure a job but also as "an opportunity to acquire different skills to help the career you are currently in and the one you would like to pursue."
When his wife lost her travel agent job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VJ said it was confirmation for him to keep having the mindset of continuing his education. "That is why I always said diversification," he added.
VJ is confident that Reynolds Community College is the right college to help achieve his ambitions and goals. He had high praise for the Reynolds staff and faculty. "I love that Reynolds' professors and faculty members are proactive for all students as well as supporting students in their college education by helping them understand the course materials and answering any questions that students may have."
VJ received awarded grants to help support him in his academic endeavors through REV (Re-Employing Virginians) Program and the G3 Program (Get Skilled, Get A Job, Get Ahead). Both are grants offered through the State of Virginia to support Virginians in upskilling and pursuing new career paths through providing additional resources. Both grant programs helped him attend his classes and get needed tuition and book materials. Also, both grant programs helped him save remaining monies to aid in living expenses. He received one semester of tuition paid for the REV program, and he received G3 grant aid to cover tuition and book/supplies in the Reynolds Bookstore for the 2021-2022 Academic Year.
His advice to others who are going back to school is to "listen to your professors' lectures" and utilize the academic resources available at the college. He encourages students to exercise time management with getting assignments completed. His consistent focus on academics has helped him obtain a 4.0-grade point average. "If students put in the required effort towards their academics, then they can achieve a high GPA, which will go a long way to carving their path."
"The most important piece of advice I tell adult learners is to not look at school as just getting a job because you can get a job anywhere. Instead, look at attending school as pursuing the dreams and passions you want out of life to become successful", was VJ's advice.
VJ is adamant that each person gets to decide how they want to get through life and puts it this way: "Gaining knowledge and going back to school will help with your ego. If you keep the same drive throughout your life, you can keep going."
Fun facts about VJ: He is the oldest of his brother and two sisters. He has a wife, a son, and daughter. His father was a first-generation student who inspired him to pursue a college education. His hobbies are playing soccer, table tennis, and chess. He enjoys listening to all genres of music, dancing with his daughter, traveling to the mountains, and looks forward to one day becoming a grandfather.