A lot has changed since Kevan Sherbine first left his hometown of Cheraw, South Carolina, to start school in Charleston. Indeed, when Sherbine first arrived in the Holy City to study at Johnson & Wales University in 1996, it was a different time, a different place. And he was a different person.

The man who will earn his Bachelor of Professional Studies from the College of Charleston School of Professional Studies on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, has grown a lot since then – and he’s worked hard all along the way.

“I’ve wanted my bachelor’s degree since 1998, and now I finally have it – and I am really proud of that accomplishment,” says Sherbine, who earned his associate’s degree from Johnson & Wales, but opted to stay in Charleston when the culinary school’s bachelor’s program moved to Rhode Island. “I loved Charleston, and I didn’t want to leave. Instead, I decided to make a living.”

And that he did – honing his customer service skills first in the food and beverage industry and then at SCE&G and Mount Pleasant Waterworks.

“That gave me so much exposure to dealing with the public, problem solving and helping people,” says Sherbine. “And it really developed my communication skills, without me knowing it, really.”

What he did know is that he still wanted to get his bachelor’s degree, and so he enrolled at the College of Charleston and began studying political science while also continuing to work full time.

“It was tough – just getting downtown for classes was a challenge,” says Sherbine, who cut his studies short after two and a half years. “That time really laid the foundation for me and helped give me those critical thinking skills. It gave me a really good, solid foundation in what I needed to succeed, so it definitely wasn’t wasted time.”

Sherbine took those skills to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, where he has worked as a master detention deputy since early 2011.

“I am the primary liaison between 1,300 inmates and all their professional visitors – their lawyers, their representatives, agencies like halfway houses, anyone they need to talk to,” he says, adding that – because communications skills are so key to his job – it only made sense to concentrate in applied communication when he returned to the College in January 2017, this time to pursue his B.P.S. on the North Campus. “That program just made more sense for me and my job and my life. I figured I’d give it a try, at least.”

And it turns out the old college try worked!

“Being in a nontraditional setting with people my own age was definitely different from the hustle and bustle of the downtown campus,” says Sherbine, noting that just having staff, faculty and classmates that understood what it was like to have full-time jobs and try to fit coursework into daily life was encouraging for him. “That change definitely stood out when I got to the North Campus: We are all there making it work because we really want to make it work. I really enjoyed coming to campus and interacting with people. I’ve made some friends for life.”

He’s also coming away from his undergraduate experience with some lessons for life.

“I’ve become a well-rounded individual here. And that’s the goal of a college education: to get a taste of the real world, so that you move beyond just your own personal space and are more accepting of the world around you. I think the College has done that for me,” he says. “It really has shaped my point of view. Before I started studying political science, my political ideology was a little skewed to the right. I think now my ideology has shifted more to the center. I’ve always been an open-minded person who really wanted to understand where everyone is coming from, but I’d say I’m even more so now. I think that’s one of the things that college is supposed to do – set you up to think for yourself and have this accepting, respectful mindset when you go out into the world.”

An open and respectful perspective isn’t the only thing that Sherbine has developed; now that he’s graduating, he’s also developed a sense of pride.

“I think I’m going to take away a sense of discipline and a sense of accomplishment that I was able to devote my time and my energy to this and come out the other side,” he says, adding that – because work always came first – it wasn’t always easy. “It can be a real struggle. It has been a challenge. It’s been nonstop for so long, and it’s taken its toll at times. But it’s something I wanted, and it’s worth it. Just feeling that weight lift after I accomplished what I set out to do – it’s all worth it. I’d do it all over again if I had to.”