(Orange, CA) - During a pandemic, at 65 years old, Steven Besneatte proves it's never too late to learn. Fifty years after his first stint at college, Besneatte earned an associate's degree in Arts, Humanities, and Communications from Santiago Canyon College at an in-person commencement celebrated on June 14, 2021, at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Besneatte tells his story that he worked for AT&T since 1978 as a directory assistant, cable maintenance splicer, then as a manager. Five years before that, he started Santa Ana College straight after graduating from Orange High School. He enrolled at SAC as a Communications major and joined the el Don, pursuing his middle school and high school aspirations of becoming a journalist. Simultaneously, he was working at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour to “make a few bucks." Living in Cerritos, commuting to SAC, and working, however, eventually became too much so he dropped out of college when his grades started to suffer.
A couple of years later and he lucked out on finding a job with AT&T saying, “I was very fortunate" in finding that job without a degree or education. The temporary job turned into a career as an engineer working on cable lines around Southern California.
Now, Besneatte is retired and told that retirement life is boring. So, he made a list -- a list of things he wants to do during his downtime, like read one of his 4,000 books, digitize his large vinyl collection, and go back to school.
“The motivation was basically to finish something I started a long time ago and just never finished," Besneatte said. But, school life wasn't everything he hoped for when returning during the pandemic. He was looking forward to socializing with students and “dazzling" the teachers with his “experience and brilliance."
No matter though, Besneatte found out that online learning worked out for him. Although the last time he went to school libraries were necessary to study and the only way to get in touch with a professor was during office hours, Besneatte adapted. He noticed Zoom classes lessened in-class distractions, and he successfully averaged a “B" in his classes. The faculty and staff, he credits, as being quick and helpful in responding to his needs and questions.
Besneatte isn't done yet either. He plans to return to SCC for the fall 2021 semester and continue seeking communications classes. The itch for human interaction and the desire to learn isn't leaving him any time soon. And, for him, community college is the perfect place.
“Community college is going to help with people who aren't bachelor's or master's or Ph.D. candidates. We don't all have to be doctors and lawyers," Besneatte said.
His new education wasn't for financial purposes, it was to finish something he started. It was to prove that someone is never too old and it's never too late to learn.
So, as he drives with his fiancé, Pam Phelps, to Mammoth getting ready to fish and play hours of online poker, he reinforces his gratitude to education. “Nobody knows everything, and even if you knew it once you probably forgot a lot of it. So for older people, like me, community college is perfect for them," Besneatte said.
For more information about Santiago Canyon College, please visit www.sccollege.edu.