Veteran completing education

Courtesy of Diane Lawhorn | 59-year-old Scean Lawhorn is pursuing a graduate degree in clinical mental health, taking courses in counseling to achieve his goal.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

Not many students graduate from college with great-grandchildren, years of service in the military, and a wife of 27 years. But 59-year-old veteran and Duquesne grad student Scean Lawhorn has all three.

Lawhorn completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Duquesne in December of 2020 and is on his way toward a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, something he’s done his whole life.

“I figured I’d go to school for what I’ve already been doing, sitting down talking with people, mentoring, listening to people’s issues and things like that,” Lawhorn said.

His wife, Diane Lawhorn, said he has always been persistent in assisting others.

“Scean is a man who has a lot of integrity, and he’s committed to helping people he cares about people, and he’s always wanting to help if he can make their lives better,” Diane said. “He always did counseling, helping people in our church, but now, since he’s gotten his degree, he sees things from an even deeper perspective.”

Before his college years, Lawhorn joined the military in 1985 at age 20 and re-enlisted, serving seven years.

During his service, Lawhorn was stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C., Fort Lee, Va., Stuttgart, Germany, El Paso and Fort Bliss, Texas.

After his service, he worked for Port Authority of Allegheny County, now known as Pittsburgh Regional Transit, and retired in 2016 after working for 25 years.

He was planning to enjoy retirement life, sitting around and collecting his pension.

Lawhorn quickly realized he couldn’t sit around and wanted to go to school after talking with friends his age in college.

“I started thinking, I gotta do something, I want to do something,” Lawhorn said.

Driving down Interstate 376 while on the phone with a Veterans Affairs representative, he passed Duquesne’s campus just as she was telling him to look at Duquesne for a college degree.

He thought it was amazing she had said that at the exact moment, he was looking at the university.

Lawhorn said the Office for Military and Veteran Students on campus has been a huge help for him.

Student Veteran Affairs president Kimberly Sugden said Lawhorn does an exceptional job knowing what others around him may need help with.

“At all times, Scean consistently prioritizes the needs of those around him before his own,” Sugden said. “Since I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, he is without a doubt one of the most devoted and compassionate individuals I’ve come across.”

Diane said she’s impressed and amazed that he was able to go back to school.

“I admire that he did this after retirement, to see the work that he puts in and the persistence to continue on, I really admire it,” she said. “Just to see someone go so many years without being in school and then go back to start it all over, I’m so proud of him.”

Her love and support for Scean can be seen in Diane as she proudly tells everyone she meets that her husband attends Duquesne.

“I could just talk about it all day long. I’m riding along in my car with a Duquesne sticker, and people will say, ‘Did you go to Duquesne?’ or ‘Did you graduate from Duquesne?’ and I say, ‘No, my husband did,’” Diane said.

The married couple have six children together, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Diane said Scean going back to school encourages his children and grandchildren to pursue their further education.

Lawhorn also encourages others to go back to school, and he said that those looking to get an education after retiring should research first and know the amount of work it takes.

“We shouldn’t get into the thing where we’re just going to go to school to try it out,” Lawhorn said. “We’re further along in life for that. Have a purpose, a plan, a goal, and if you really believe that that’s what you want to do, then go for it.”