JACKSONVILLE — As a student in the 1970s, Mike Rogers
worked part-time while studying at Jacksonville State University on his way to becoming his family's first college
One of those part-time jobs almost led to a shift in career plans. But after working in psychiatry and law, the
Republican from Saks is now the three-term congressman representing Alabama's 3rd District.
Rogers offered some career advice to current students Monday morning as the first speaker in a series at JSU.
"I came from a family of the working poor, who made enough to get by but not enough to get ahead," he said. "But you
don't just have to be from a privileged background to succeed."
Janet White, director of the university's Career Placement Services, said this was the first year for the speakers series,
titled "My Career, My Success, My JSU."
"We wanted to try a different type of event," she said, noting a shift from the annual alumni panel.
"We thought this would be a little less formal atmosphere."
The Career Placement Office provided coffee and doughnuts to students and other visitors attending Rogers' speech
Rogers earned a double major, in political science and psychology, at JSU. With fewer jobs available in politics, he
went to work part-time in the psychiatric ward at Regional Medical Center.
"And you don't know colorful until you've done that," he said.
He briefly thought about pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology, but he knew he wanted a career in politics, he said.
Rogers urged students to get involved early with whatever their aspirations may be.
"Outside of your education, it's the best way to learn the process," he said. "In politics, you may have all
these policy ideas. But if you can't get in a position to do something about it, it doesn't matter."
He also encouraged students to participate in the internship programs he offers at his offices in Anniston, Opelika,
Montgomery and Washington.
"When I was a student, I certainly didn't have the ability to fly to Washington, never mind stay there," he said. "But
it does look pretty good on a resumé."
Christian Goldin, a junior at JSU, said she enjoyed hearing Rogers' talk about keeping his family in Alabama and commuting
"He's a good man," she said. "It's good to know he keeps those values of the South."
White said the Career Placement Office will present 8 to 10 speakers this year, including Greg Robison, a former JSU football
great and now a chemistry researcher and professor at the University of Georgia.
"My goal with this has been to show students they can accomplish anything they want to from here," she said. "I know some
of them will be back some day for this same thing."
About Steve Ivey
Steve covers education for The Star.
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