Role Model Seeking Title of College Graduate
Demico Lockett has held many titles in his lifetime. Student, manager, coach, barber, DJ, and soldier. The title he’s looking forward to most right now? College graduate.
Come May 17, 2014 that’s exactly what he will be. The senior Information Systems major from St. Louis, Mo., began his journey with Emporia State University in January of 2003.
“Initially my brother was a student here and talked me into taking a visit to ESU,” said Lockett. “I was drawn to the family atmosphere of the town and the size of campus.”
Lockett knew he was interested in a business degree, but it wasn’t until after talking to one of his former professors, that he decided on Information Systems (IS).
“Computers and technology have always been interests of mine, but I wasn’t really sure what to do with them. Dr. Alshare sat me down one day to talk about my future and IS just seemed like the natural fit, with great job potential.”
Lockett admitted that when he began at Emporia State he wasn’t able to fully focus on being a student.
“I honestly wasn’t the best student when I was here before” he said. “I had a lot going on and focused more on things outside of school; mainly my job at the time and my social life. When I found myself struggling academically, I realized I needed to reevaluate some things in my life.”
In order to do that, Lockett decided to take some time off from school. He soon found an interest in the armed forces and enlisted in the military in September 2007. “Really, I wanted to be a better man. For my family, my loved ones, and for myself. I also saw the potential for the financial benefits and saw it as a way to help pay for my education.”
After he completed basic training in Ft. Knox, Ky., Lockett traveled to Augusta, Ga., for Advanced Individual Training. It was here that he was able to receive specialized training in military communications.
“I originally signed up to be a Signal Support Specialist because I knew that would be a great way for me to tie in my interests in technology. When I met with the recruiters, they suggested becoming a ’25 Uniform’ because that’s what they were in need of. Eventually, I was cross-trained to do a lot more, but my specialization was working with radio equipment, networking, satellite technology, and computing.”
Lockett was deployed with the 25th Infantry Division, Charlie Company 209th Aviation Support Battalion, to Talalfar, Iraq on September 9, 2009. He was able to use his communication specialization to repair and set up satellite and radio transmissions for medical evacuation helicopters.
When his mother became ill in the fall of 2010, Lockett was able to come back home on emergency leave to St. Louis to be with his family. When she passed away in December of that year, Lockett knew he needed more time at home. He spent the next year or so working odd jobs and spending time with his loved ones. On September 27, 2011 he completed his time on active duty and transitioned into the Kansas National Guard.
“When I decided to move back to Emporia I had about $100 to my name,” recalled Lockett. “I remember coming back to campus in March, in my military uniform, fresh from drill, to get registered and enrolled for classes again. I was able to pay for classes because of the G.I. bill, and I was getting money from the National Guard, but I knew I would need another source of income.”
It was then that Demico found some office work in town and a work study job in the IDT Lab and the School of Business. He also started cutting hair at His and Hers Barber Shop on Saturdays, and by appointment. His passion for basketball also gave him the opportunity to be a volunteer assistant coach for the ESU Men’s Basketball team for a period of time.
Thanks to his experiences while he was away, Lockett came back to Emporia State with a new perspective on life and school.
“When you forget something in the military or don’t do something to your full potential, men don’t come home,” he said. “I realized what was most important in life, God, country, family, friends.”
On why he came back to school, Lockett explained, “I wanted to set an example for other kids who were in my shoes. I wanted them to know that just because you come from the inner-city, or just because you leave school to reevaluate your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t persevere and be successful. In the military we talk a lot about ‘leaving a legacy’ and I want mine to open a door for other students that come from where I come from.”
Currently, Lockett is working as a student assistant in the School of Business. He splits his time working with Dr. Jun Yu on a research project and also in the Business Resource Center, where he is helping to develop a student satisfaction survey.
Emporia State has certainly helped Lockett in his transition back to school and has prepared him for his transition after graduation. He said there have been several faculty members who have really challenged and supported him since his return.
“Dr. (Douglass) Smith, Dr. (Don) Miller, Professor (Bill) Barnes and Dr. (Sharath) Sasidharan have really helped push me and made me think critically about where I go from here.”
So where exactly is that?
After meeting with representatives of Payless Shoe source at the Fall Career Fair at Emporia State, Lockett secured a job with the company as a software engineer, a position that will allow him to apply his passion for technology, and also allow him to start a secure and steady life. In the future, he hopes to become a project manager and someday pursue his entrepreneurial spirit. No matter what happens, however, Lockett says he will always consider himself a proud “Hornet for Life.”
— Story by Jennifer Cheray