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What a long, strange Tripp it’s been

A person is not defined by how many times they get knocked down, but instead how they choose to pick themselves up and continue on.


Lenoard Tripp, a 38-year-old first-generation Lyon student majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry, has defined himself as someone not willing to stay down.


“I have learned a lot from the mistakes in my past, and now I am in the process of re-inventing myself into someone who is working toward reaching their potential,” said Tripp.


But like all processes, Tripp’s story had to start somewhere.


“In between high school and enrolling in college I worked a series of factory jobs and bounced back and forth from Forrest City to Batesville. I don't really feel that I had a purpose at this time in my life, and the decisions I was making only compounded the problems I had,” said Tripp.


He continued, “I used to have a bad habit of blaming other people for my shortcomings. Once I started taking responsibility for my mistakes, I realized that I had the power to change my situation also.”


And change his situation he did! Tripp said that once life started to straighten out he realized that he was underachieving, and his next steps were unavoidable to him. When the pandemic hit, Tripp had found his reason to give getting a degree one more try.


“When the pandemic hit in 2020 and my employer made it obvious that they did not care to sacrifice the lives of their employees for money, it was the motivation I needed to enroll in school and be serious about it,” said Tripp.


Tripp wasn’t going to just enroll in school though, he wanted to prove that he could pass with flying colors. And with a mission in mind, Tripp set his sights on the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville where he would begin working towards a psychology degree.


“I remember my first semester back, I was nervous because so much time had gone by since I was last in a classroom. Once I got past my second week or so I kind of hit my stride and never looked back,” said Tripp.


Tripp put in the hours and in the end the countless nights spent finishing assignments paid off with a 4.0 gpa.Tripp said that while things started out rocky, UACCB was there for him every step of the way to help. 


“All my professors were so encouraging, and there were some hard days when I really needed that. I was never close to failing, but I wanted that 4.0 so bad and there were a few close calls,” said Tripp.


Speaking of encouragement, Tripp wanted to give thanks to a couple of people who he said really helped him along the way during his time at UACCB.


“My advisor, Rhonda McLelland, Lisa Lewis, and all the people in the Trio program were always there for me. My English teachers Mrs. Goslin and Mrs. Strickland were both amazing teachers and wonderful people. They set me up for success, and they gave me the tools that I needed to be a strong writer,” said Tripp. 


He continued, “My family is incredible and so supportive, there is no way I could do this mentally or financially without them. I also have the best girlfriend who has two special children.”


Along with the quality education and vibrant community, it was the outpouring of support that made UACCB really shine for Tripp.


“I think the passion for teaching and helping students learn from all the faculty I worked with at UACCB is the main thing that not only met my expectations but exceeded them. They gave me confidence in myself, and they were there for me every time I had a problem,” said Tripp.


It’s that same passion and care that Tripp is looking to keep alive as he continues his education. Tripp’s classes in psychology have started his path to being able to help those that may be struggling with ailments that aren’t necessarily physical.


“Because of my past I can empathize with addicts, and I just know that this is where I will make an impact in the world. It is something that I experienced personally, and I almost threw away the potential I had because of it,” said Tripp.


In addition to a major in psychology, Tripp said he is working towards a minor in chemistry as well since he enjoyed the classes and looks forward to the challenges they come with. And although his time at UACCB came to an end, it was an opportunity for a new chapter to begin. Tripp said Lyon College was his goal as soon as he realized he was capable of doing the work.


“When I was in junior high, I used to think about going here. I just told myself for a while that I could not do it. Now I ask myself what I can achieve. I think that shift in my mindset has been critical in my success,” said Tripp.


He continued, “The school’s academic reputation has preceded it my whole life, and I am after the best education possible.”


Tripp said that there were many factors leading him to Lyon College, but far and away the most important is in Tripp’s words, the “academic prestige.”


“The stellar reputation of the school is what drew me here, so even though I am a bit nervous, I am excited at the same time. I am also excited about some of the outdoor activities that Lyon offers, and I plan on participating in some of those in some form. I am also hoping to get to experience the study abroad program. I think that is an amazing opportunity for the students,” said Tripp.


In addition to academic advantages, Tripp said getting hands-on networking experience with the community on campus is also high on his agenda. 


“I expect to make connections with students and faculty that I will carry over into my professional life after school. I also hope that my professors can help me select a graduate school to attend that will provide me with the best skills to help people,” said Tripp.


Tripp’s plan is to take his education as far as he can because he feels that this is his way of providing the best help to those struggling.


“I plan on becoming an addiction counselor, and probably moving away from Arkansas. I really want to live somewhere along the west coast. I must have my master’s degree to be a counselor, but I am not ruling out going after a doctorate,” said Tripp.


Tripp said his mission going forward is trying to send the message of giving back to others when we can.


“My biggest dream is to open a non-profit rehabilitation center in a low-income community. These are the ones who have been affected by drugs the most, and many have little to no access to treatment,” said Tripp. 


A dream that is well underway, and Tripp is taking it one semester at a time.


Tripp said, “Hopefully one day I look back on the next two years as a time of major individual growth with a lot of fun mixed in!”