Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Something just kept bugging Jim Kines.
It didn’t matter that the veteran police officer had caught hundreds of bad guys. That he’d been certified in fingerprint and blood stain analysis – employing CSI techniques years before they were plot points on primetime television. That he’d been an undercover narcotics agent and, later, an acting chief of police and a noted expert on criminal investigation – a lawman’s lawman, in other words. Or even that he was happily married to the love of his life and raised three children.
In the back of his mind, it was always there, like a mark on an otherwise stellar career. The words buzzed around, a constant refrain. He was Jim Kines. College drop out.
“It was always a burr in my saddle because I didn’t finish college,” Kines said.
Not that he was expected to do so. Not really. He grew up “on the poorer side of town ,” surrounded by the textile mills and furniture factories of Lexington, North Carolina, the son of parents who never finished high school, let alone stepped foot on a college campus. He enrolled at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, sure, but that didn’t last. “Some people just aren’t ready to go to college,” he said. That was Jim.
This is Jim now, and he’ll be hard to miss at Anderson University’s 2018 graduation service, scheduled for Saturday, May 12, at 10 a.m. He will, after all, be what he calls “the oldest guy out there.”
That’s because Jim is graduating with a master’s degree in criminal justice from AU -- the third degree he’s earned since deciding to go back to school. It’s his second degree from AU, the first coming at the tender age of 54, and with high honors. He’s 65 now, and preparing to retire from one of his many careers, this one as the Director of Campus Safety.
His next chapter? Serving as an adjunct faculty member at the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration, where he’s tasked with building a comprehensive course in criminal investigation.
It’s a long way from the mill town of his youth, or his days as a rookie cop supporting his wife, Susan, as she built her own career. It’s even a long way from when he first arrived at AU as a student and, later, as its top cop.
That’s because as remarkable as his own growth has been, he’s just as impressed with the rise of his alma mater, a school that’s the fastest growing private university in South Carolina – and it’s second largest.
“The growth has been beyond phenomenal,” Jim said. “In four years, from the time I started school here to joining the staff, we built a brand-new library. We also built an athletic campus and a state-of-the-art student center. This is the kind of place where I want to be. The growth, the academics – it’s been a wild ride.”
And now it’s time to give back, Jim said.
“Anderson University has been such an important part of my life,” Jim said. “I’m very enthusiastic about teaching here. I see it as passing the torch. I have a passion for this institution. It was a catalyst, a life-changer at a point in life where you don’t have many life-changing moments. That doesn’t often happen once, let alone twice.”
Not bad for a college drop out.