How this entrepreneur soared from straight F’s to earn a Ph.D.

Dollita Okine May 17, 2024
The 37-year-old now has three college degrees, although he was a two-time freshman in high school with an average of 1.3. Photo Credit: Black News

After a challenging academic path, Ron Lewis Jr. is on track to graduate with a Doctorate in Business Administration from the International University of Leadership. The 37-year-old now has three college degrees, although he was a two-time freshman in high school with a 1.3 grade point average.

Lewis Jr. suffered in high school, growing up in Jacksonville, Florida. He had to repeat the ninth grade and later received eight consecutive F’s during two semesters at Florida Community College (now Florida State College at Jacksonville).

He decided to enlist in the U.S. Army, close his successful printing business, and drop out of college due to despair. In the course of his military service, Lewis Jr. became a “motivational conference junkie,” going to motivational conferences and surrounding himself with people who were equally driven to stay motivated. Lewis Jr. started to follow motivational speakers Eric Thomas and Les Brown.

Things started to change when he started reading books like Eric Thomas’s The Secret to Success: When You Want to Succeed as Bad as You Want to Breathe.

He recounted, “That was the first book I ever read from front to back, and I was 27 years old.”

“Thomas wrote, ‘If you can look up, you can get up,’ and something in me shifted. When I learned it took Thomas twelve years to earn a four-year degree, I could relate to that. I also realized a Bachelor’s degree is still a degree. The amount of time it takes to earn a degree doesn’t matter,” he said, according to Black News.

Lewis Jr. returned to college, fueled by his newfound motivation and status as an army veteran. He enrolled in a business management course at the University of Phoenix. He soon became the first member of his family to complete college. He then enrolled in the University of Phoenix’s MBA program on academic probation, which he had to compensate for by completing four extra classes.

Lewis Jr. finished the four classes with a 3.0 GPA—his highest grade ever in his academic career. He decided to start giving inspirational speeches in his neighborhood.

Lewis Jr., who is currently a successful entrepreneur, real estate agent, and motivational speaker, has addressed audiences of over a thousand students including at the community college where he had received eight straight Fs.

He said, “I show up and approach the conversation with full transparency, and I share how I learned to hold myself accountable. I may be the doctoral candidate walking across the stage in June, but failure is a huge part of my success story. When I explain that, it helps students recognize that they have the same potential, no matter their background and even those struggling right now can relate.”

He pointed out that some individuals require tutoring to engage with content more quickly or a more robust support system at home or school. His goal is to assist these people in realizing that they possess the ability to change their situation if they don’t give up trying.

He declared, “I am a living, breathing example of that.”

Now set to be awarded his doctorate in June, Lewis Jr. is a member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society and a student on the Dean’s List. He is also just a few points away from having a perfect grade point average. He recently completed a successful dissertation defense with the topic “How Learning Entrepreneurship at an Early Age Could Possibly Reduce Poverty and Homelessness.”

He encouraged, “Failing is not losing! Failure is actually a part of success. It’s a process. You only lose when you quit.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 17, 2024


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