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POSSE Scholar and Veteran, Jim Carlisle, Discusses Returning to College to Follow His Dreams

POSSE Scholar and Veteran, Jim Carlisle, Discusses Returning to College to Follow His Dreams

Jim Carlisle served in the military, worked in logistics management, moved across the country and focused on continuing his education - all to fulfill his goal of helping others by opening a mental wellness center. He wants to help others facing adversity who need help.

With the Posse Scholarship, Carlisle will embark on another move after graduating from NOVA this May. He looks forward to attending University of Virginia to earn his bachelor’s and then a master’s.

The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains individuals with extraordinary potential and provides them with full-tuition leadership scholarships. The scholars work in a cohort of sorts, with the understanding that a posse has the greatest support and best chance of success. 57 percent of this year’s POSSE Scholars are the first in their families to graduate from college. NOVA has had the most POSSE Scholars in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background:

I am 37 and started my career by joining the Air Force at 18.  After leaving the military, I moved to the Northern Virginia area in 2009, and I worked at a logistics management corporation for three years. I took a sabbatical in 2016 and moved across the country looking for a new career path. So, I started taking online classes.

At first, I thought I wanted to be an electrical engineer since I worked in the technology sector for a while. I went and took some courses and realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Throughout different periods of time, I worked through my mental health in dealing with my own struggles. In doing so, I then realized I wanted to help others. I wanted to share with people how I overcame a lot of adversity. This has allowed me to pursue studying psychology with the goal of opening a mental wellness center. I want to create a place to help others and for people to overcome adversity.

What brought you to NOVA?

I got out of the military in 2008, and since moving to the Northern Virginia area, I heard so much about the College. At the time, I wasn’t ready to immerse myself in school. During the pandemic, I decided to go back to school after thinking about it for a decade.

What are you studying at NOVA?

I will be completing a Social Science degree here, and then pursuing a bachelor’s in Psychology.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.

I am the ambassador for student life on the Annandale Campus. I am the SGA president for NOVA Online. I love being really active and involved.

Last semester was the most difficult semester for me. I had calculus and logic with Professor Stakland and Professor Haile, while I was doing SGA things and working 40 hours a week. They were super supportive in pushing me toward being successful. It was just a tremendous way to really connect with them.

NOVA professors are awesome. They are always there for you. As long as you are trying your best, they will help guide you and tell you where you need to go.

I want to thank all of my professors. I have had great relationships with every single one of them. If I had to name six people that really helped me, they would be LaChante Thomas, Nigel Word, Professor Haile, Professor Stakland, Professor Gamgoum, and Dr. Erica Smith. All of those people gave me something different. Every single course and class I have taken, I have learned something inside and outside of the classroom.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?Jim Carlyle and his wife

I would tell students to get involved, know your professors and talk to your classmates. Try to have a clear mind when going to a new class. Just enjoy the learning experience. You shouldn’t come here to just get a piece of paper because that is not going to teach you anything. If you’re actually trying, you will get the essence of what professors are trying to teach you. The building blocks you learn here will help you so much in the future.

You learn time management, leadership and managing groups of friends. Just have an open mind and be willing to go forward. Be active and be a participant in everything that you do. You will enjoy it more. You only fail if you don’t try.

Where do you see yourself after NOVA or what career pursuits are you exploring? 

I will be graduating from NOVA in May 2023 and plan to continue my studies in psychology at University of Virginia. I will be moving to Charlottesville.

I eventually want to come back and help NOVA as an alum, and do things NOVA, whether its volunteering or speaking to a class.

How do you feel about achieving the Posse Scholarship?

It is surreal to win this scholarship. I didn’t think I was going to win at all. In the group interview, I was with such brilliant people. I am happy just to be part of that experience. I am grateful to be one of the finalists and grateful that I was chosen. It is still all settling in for me to be a finalist.

It will really hit me receiving the award and going to UVA for my bachelor’s and then my master’s to study either abnormal or clinical psychology. I am excited and ready to go. It has been a long time coming.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.