The Pursuit of Knowledge: One man’s passion to continue learning

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Ashlee Gilley

Most students see college as a time in their life where they just have to get through it to make it to the next step. However, every once in a while you come across someone who enjoys learning so much they continue to do so throughout their lifetime.

John Richard Lewis is one of those people who has chosen to be a lifelong learner. He is 65 and currently working on his sixth degree among other personal projects.

“It’s a matter of becoming a complete person. Realizing your full potential. That’s what I believe life is all about,” Lewis said. He also said that he “doesn’t believe in retirement.”

His degrees

The first time he graduated college was with a Psychology degree and spent the years of 1975-1978 as a drug and alcohol counselor in the army while stationed Germany.

After that he decided that he needed to do something a little less negative with his life so he went back to school for the first time. After getting a business degree, his second degree, he spent 25 years as a corporate business man.

Then, he once again decided it was time to pursue another passion. He currently holds five degrees and is currently working on his sixth: a studio art degree.

Decisions based on passion

While they may all seem very different from one another, Lewis decides which degrees to get just based on his personal interests. The studio degree he is currently working on was inspired by a lifelong love for creating comic book art.

Similarly, his writing degree was motivated by a desire to put all of the ideas he’s had in his head since the 80’s, to put into an actual novel. While getting that degree, and teaching at Georgia Southern he was actually able to get most of his writing done.

Although he is still in the revision process, his novel, “Strengthen the Things Which Remain,” is Lewis’ first fully written book. He says it is a “near future cyber-espionage thriller.”

Art and Writing skills

He uses his talent for drawing to make covers and art for his novel, and hopes to fine tune his skills while pursuing a studio art degree. His novels, as well as his art work, can be seen on his website

His website includes not only his novel and some of his artwork, it also includes samplings from his second novel as well as a few blog posts. He finished the first few portions of his book while he was pursuing a writing degree as well as a teaching degree here at Georgia Southern in the IT department.

When it comes to writing, Lewis tries to follow the advice of Stephen King and write 1,000 words a day when he is seriously writing. Following this advice is how he was able to write ten chapters in just one summer away from teaching.

“Anytime I was on break I would just take off from here and go write,” Lewis said.He said sometimes he would write well over 1,000 words a day when the story just started pouring out of him.

When asked what the biggest challenges of going back to college multiple times are, Lewis said that the first time he went back to school, all of the pre-requisites took a while to complete. It took him years of going back to school part time in order to achieve his second degree.

He was working 60 to 70 hours a week and going to class part time, which meant he could only take one class a semester. Lewis considers himself a lifetime learner

Lewis said, “you have to want it, to go back and do it.”