It Doesn’t Really Matter Where You Start


Born in a 4-room shack (no indoor plumbing), placed in remedial high school classes, not considered college material, delayed enlisted in the US Army at age 17, and once worked as a janitor, Lonnie's life is an example of the American Dream.

So difficult was his early adult life, there were times he had no reliable transportation, almost homeless, and only ate a half can of ‘sweet peas’ in the morning/the other half that evening. Working in a variety of industrial jobs and having little academic confidence, he did not graduate college until age 36 with an associate’s degree in welding. But 12 years later, Dr. Lonnie Howard had earned a total of five degrees: AAS, AGS, BS, MS, and PhD (University of Texas at Austin) with a 4.0 GPA. Dr. Howard has continued on to complete postdoctoral training at Penn State, Harvard, and University of Southern California.

Because of his inspiring personal story and many leadership accomplishments (serving twice as a college president/CEO), he is a sought-after speaker with nearly 100 national, state, and local presentations. This former janitor has given out of his own pocket numerous scholarships to help deserving students and is creating the, “Your Last Year of College is on Me” program.

Even more impressive, as a single dad, Lonnie adopted a toddler that was sold for drugs at 3-weeks old. Today, his son is working and pursuing a PhD.