Episodes of The Sport Clips Haircuts Hall of Fame Podcast - Haircuts with Heart featuring US Army Veteran, Adam Lawrence

Red Banner with HOF Episode

In this episode recorded in October of 2018, we continue our "Haircuts with Heart" series, where we look at a few of the causes and charities that Sport Clips supports. In this podcast, we interview US Army Veteran, Adam Lawrence. Adam is a 2018 recipient of the Help A Hero Scholarship. Since 2013, Sport Clips has been the primary supporter of the VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship program, which provides scholarships for service members and veterans for use at post-secondary schools and trade schools. To date, we have awarded more than 1,000 scholarships totaling $4.9 million. To learn more about the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program, including details on eligibility, visit: https://www.vfw.org/scholarship/

Chad and Adam Lawrence holding a microphone

Episode Air Date Guest Name Guest Title Topic(s)
October 10, 2018 Adam Lawrence Help A Hero Scholarship Recipient Continuing his career and education because of the HAH scholarship.

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Chad Jordan:                All right everybody. This is Chad Jordan. I'm Director of Marketing at Sport Clips Haircuts, and as everyone knows October is our full on Help a Hero Month. Help a Hero is one of the main causes that we support at Sport Clips, where we raise money to provide scholarships to veterans that are transitioning really to the civilian workforce. We have stores all across the country right now actively raising money doing fundraisers, pie in the face, selling little ducks. I know it sounds crazy, but just ask TN210. Bake sales. Raffles. All sorts of things to be creative and get additional resources pouring into this organization which is the VFW is the one that we support.

                                    We thought it'd be neat. We've already interviewed ... Let's see. TN210, the store that raises essentially the most money every year for Help a Hero. We've interviewed, Lynn Rolf, who is the Program Director over at ... Director of Programs over at VFW. One of our favorite people. Also BJ Lawrence, who's the National Commander, or the Commander in Chief, of the VFW right now. We've had podcast interviews with them even over the course of the last few weeks and months, but we really wanted to connect with a scholarship recipient, so I'm extremely excited today. We're sitting down here. Got a chance to talk to this individual a little bit before we connected through the podcast, but we have a scholarship recipient from Help a Hero. We want to put a voice at least to the cause and a face, if you view us on Facebook or something you'll see the selfie, but the scholarship recipient, I'm going to have him introduce himself. Maybe a little bit about where he's come from in terms of military service and all of that. We're just going to have a quick conversation just to touch base with him.

                                    Without further ado, why don't I have you introduce yourself?

Adam Lawrence:          Hi. How's it going? I am Adam Lawrence.

Chad Jordan:                Adam.

Adam Lawrence:          Thanks for having me.

Chad Jordan:                You live where are you at right now Adam?

Adam Lawrence:          I'm in Claremont. Right down the street.

Chad Jordan:                He's in Southern California. I know everybody's listening to this all over the country, so you don't know where we are. We're in beautiful Southern California right now. Adam is a scholarship recipient going to school. What school?

Adam Lawrence:          Claremont Graduate University.

Chad Jordan:                We're going to talk a little bit about that. Before I do, branch of service you were with in-

Adam Lawrence:          The army.

Chad Jordan:                The army.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. The army.

Chad Jordan:                You're not active duty or reserve or anything right now?

Adam Lawrence:          No. I am out. I'm done.

Chad Jordan:                You're out. You made it out. Congratulations there. How many years did you serve and where and what can you tell us about your military service?

Adam Lawrence:          Well, I joined right out of high school, 2007.

Chad Jordan:                Are you from Southern California, or ...

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. I'm local.

Chad Jordan:                Why? Why do you think in 2007? Did you see the economy was going a certain way, and you're like, "You know what? I don't trust this thing. Let me get a guaranteed job for a couple years and see what happens"? What drew you to it?

Adam Lawrence:          I wish I had a cool story that I could tell you right now, but I was-

Chad Jordan:                Is wasn't one of those like you got busted and the judge says, "Hey, you got to join the army or else"? Is that it?

Adam Lawrence:          No.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. All right.

Adam Lawrence:          Worse. I was at Hometown Buffet-

Chad Jordan:                Mm. Making me hungry. Having all the desserts at Hometown Buffet. Okay.

Adam Lawrence:          I was with my buddy, and we were just like, "Hey. Let's join the army."

Chad Jordan:                "Let's do something crazy."

Adam Lawrence:          Well, my dad was in the army. He was in for eight years. Way before I was born. Then my grandpa, he was in World War II. He was in the army as well. It wasn't like-

Chad Jordan:                It had never been pressured?

Adam Lawrence:          Nope. Not at all. Even when I joined-

Chad Jordan:                You're talking to an Air Force brat here. My dad and my uncles ... There was a little bit of expectation like, "Hey, if you want to join the Air Force it's always there for you." You were just kind of left to it? No one in your family really pressured you to join?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. It was never a conversation.

Chad Jordan:                You and your buddy just-

Adam Lawrence:          Hanging out.

Chad Jordan:                Over at the ice cream fountain at Hometown Buffet were thinking, "You know what'd be great?"

Adam Lawrence:          Why not? We wanted to jump out of airplanes. That was the plan.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. Daredevils.

Adam Lawrence:          I went to the ... We wanted to get paid to jump out of airplanes.

Chad Jordan:                Had you ever skydived before?

Adam Lawrence:          No. Never. Never. Just thought that it should be a profession immediately. Then went to the recruiting station.

Chad Jordan:                Which, public service announcement here, maybe the recruiting station should be in a Hometown Buffet.

Adam Lawrence:          Maybe.

Chad Jordan:                We might've just stumbled onto something here, man. Sorry. You go to the recruiting station ...

Adam Lawrence:          Well, actually yeah. We go there, and then the recruiter was just like, "Oh, yeah, if we want to jump out of airplanes, you just sign up to be 11 Bravo," which was the identifier, which is infantry. I didn't get airborne-

Chad Jordan:                Did this danger sign start flashing when he's talking about this kind of stuff?

Adam Lawrence:          I didn't think when you had to land out of the airplane you had to do infantry stuff, but ...

Chad Jordan:                Right. Right. They don't just drop you for the fun of it. They need you to do something when you land.

Adam Lawrence:          I actually ... My God, I hope I'm not painting a terrible picture of myself, but I didn't even get airborne in my contract. The recruiter was like, "Hey, when you get to basic, they're going to ask, 'Who wants to be airborne? Volunteers', and that's when you do it." I was like, "That makes total sense," because I'm 18 and I don't know any better. I just-

Chad Jordan:                In hindsight, you should have insisted? Is that what you realize now?

Adam Lawrence:          No. Actually, hindsight, I'm glad everything worked out, because ...

Chad Jordan:                You get to basic, which is where? Is this Fort Bragg?

Adam Lawrence:          Fort Benning.

Chad Jordan:                Is that Georgia?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Fort Benning Georgia. Sand hill. Didn't get airborne. They sent me off to Fort Drum, New York, which is light infantry, which means we don't even get cars. We get to walk everywhere. Don't get planes. Don't get cars. Don't get anything.

Chad Jordan:                You're not dropping out of planes. You're just walking all over the place.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Luckily, in practice and deployment we got some Humvees, but ...

Chad Jordan:                Your Hometown Buffet buddy, is he going through class with you, or is he long gone?

Adam Lawrence:          He got airborne actually. No. He went to base. He was in intel. He didn't go infantry. He went intelligence, which isn't ... I guess all he did during his service was laminate maps, but he got airborne, so he got to jump.

Chad Jordan:                Have you ever jumped out of a plane?

Adam Lawrence:          Still haven't ever. Never.

Chad Jordan:                That's a bucket list then. We got to make it happen for Adam Lawrence somehow, someway man.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                You get out.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. I got out.

Chad Jordan:                You come back to Southern California right away, or do you explore? What happens?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. No. Just come back. I had the mindset of college, because high school I was not a good student.

Chad Jordan:                It's because you were skipping for the Hometown Buffet desserts and the all you can eat roast beef. You weren't going to class. You and your buddy. He was a bad influence on you.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. We can blame him for everything.

Chad Jordan:                You realized, "I need to go get something more education-wise."

Adam Lawrence:          I was looking forward to I have the GI Bill, so that's the greatest gift in the world.

Chad Jordan:                Tell me, you had that? Is that an incentive for when you went in?

Adam Lawrence:          No. Not at all.

Chad Jordan:                How does that work? I don't know. I don't know how the GI Bill works.

Adam Lawrence:          I had no desire to go to continue education in high school. Joining, I was like, "Never. I would never do that."

Chad Jordan:                Thank God. You graduated high school. You're like, "I'm never going to study again in my life."

Adam Lawrence:          It's over. Barely made it out alive. I'm not going to do that to myself again, but yeah. I thought ... I don't know. I was just wracking my brain. What am I going ... I'm going to go to college, but what am I going to do?

                                    I landed on architecture. I don't know how I got to that. I'd never drawn anything in my life. I got out. I went to my parent's for like a couple months or whatever just to get back to the swing of things. I found Pasadena City college. They have an amazing architecture program. One of the only-

Chad Jordan:                It's an amazing city college. One of the best in the country.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Everything about it is perfect. That was a little far from my parent's house. I was like, "Oh, I'm just going to go to Pasadena and go to community college." That's kind of where everything changed for me at Pasadena.

Chad Jordan:                Like what? What started happening?

Adam Lawrence:          My previous mindset of like, "School is dumb."

Chad Jordan:                A light bulb literally went off?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. I really owe it to they have an amazing veteran resource center there. The people there, they need a shout out because they are the ones who helped me transition.

Chad Jordan:                Did you find them, or did they realize, they look through enrollment, and they say, "We got a veteran here. We need to reach out to him"?

Adam Lawrence:          They have such a big community that it's just all over campus, so I couldn't-

Chad Jordan:                You couldn't escape it. You were like, "I was a veteran."

Adam Lawrence:          I just walked in, and I say, "Hey. That might be for me." They had a program ... I hope they still do. It's called Boots to Books. It's such a huge school, there's a bunch of veterans got out that they kind of try to bring in all the veterans they can for their first semester they will do the Boots to Book kind of program where they take ... When I did it, I don't know if it's changed, you take your English class. You take classes that are going to work towards transferring. You know community college is transfer. You're in a cohort. There's like 20, 25 people.

Chad Jordan:                They're all veterans that you're in with?

Adam Lawrence:          All veterans.

Chad Jordan:                It's like a class. It's like a company.

Adam Lawrence:          Another, "I'm back in the military again." You take the same classes with each other. For that first semester, there was an English, an anthropology class, and a couple of ... I don't know.

Chad Jordan:                Pre-requisite?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Pre-rec classes. They're led by faculty who have dedicated a portion of their life to helping veterans succeed. It was just an amazing experience, because if I went to my first class and I sat down, and there was some 18 year old, what I was before I joined the army, I would punch myself or him or whatever. I was with and it was just a huge range of people. I think one of my closest friends was some 40 year old retired Master Sergeant.

Chad Jordan:                After 20 years in. Exactly.

Adam Lawrence:          If I would punch some 18 year old, God knows what he would do. It really just got us into this mindset. I think having a program, wherever a veteran ends up, these programs really cater to the idea of you can succeed in academia. I think for ... I don't know how many veterans went to, or however many people from my company went to, the university after. If a veteran wants to do, if they have a goal in mind after they get out, that's amazing, but I know a lot of people don't. I know a lot of them stay away from college because they're just like, "Nah. I can't do that."

Chad Jordan:                An intimidation.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. They settle for the quick, easy paycheck. If that's what they want, amazing, but going to community college, in my opinion, community college, with a veteran resource center is probably the most important thing a vet can do right after they get out. That's my-

Chad Jordan:                That's helped the transition. That's your plug, right?

Adam Lawrence:          That's my plug. Go to community college. Meet with these people.

Chad Jordan:                You do that for how many years?

Adam Lawrence:          I was there for two years. Actually, it's funny because I placed really low. I don't know if I said this yet, but I'm a math major.

Chad Jordan:                Nerd.

Adam Lawrence:          I know I am. Damn nerds. Architecture. I'm not good a drawing. Big pre-rec.

Chad Jordan:                Kind of the number one qualification for being an architect.

Adam Lawrence:          Having a vision. I kind of fiddled around with what I wanted to do. Like I said, I sucked at high school. Bad. It took me I think four years to get through algebra or something. My parents said that my professors or teachers were calling them being like, "Hey, he's not going to graduate. You need to get his shit together." When I went to community college, I had the architecture idea, and they needed to take freshmen level physics. I'm like, "Physics. This is dumb. I'm here to draw. Why would I waste my time with numbers?"

                                    I placed really low into the math portion of ... There's so many classes to get to calculus, so I could take physics. I had to enroll in another cohort of people who weren't good at math that needed to do math accelerated.

Chad Jordan:                Is this veteran related, or is this just-

Adam Lawrence:          No. This is just for-

Chad Jordan:                There weren't enough veterans that weren't good at math, and they couldn't make a group of them.

Adam Lawrence:          No. This is just for everyone who just was bad at math. I was in two cohorts, and I don't know. Just something about being in this math cohort ... I don't know.

Chad Jordan:                Sparked something.

Adam Lawrence:          I placed in pre-algebra, which I think 10 year olds take in elementary. I think that's what I was taking at 23 year old. I just kept going I guess. I don't know. I changed to math. Then I transferred to Cal Poly Pomona. Another amazing school.

Chad Jordan:                I'm in San Luis Obispo, so Cal Poly is our local college.

Adam Lawrence:          We're the Cal Poly down here. I don't know if you guys-

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. We're Cal Poly South. We're Cal Poly North. You're Cal Poly South.

Adam Lawrence:          That's it. They have a big veteran community too. They took lower division transfers, which means I didn't have all my stuff completed, but they didn't want everything completed. I transferred over there and spent three-ish years there and graduated with a degree in applied math.

Chad Jordan:                Awesome. What year?

Adam Lawrence:          Last year. 2018.

Chad Jordan:                Cool. Was there a ceremony, and you're walking on stage?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. That was ... When was it? June? Couple months ago.

Chad Jordan:                How cool.

Adam Lawrence:          Girlfriend got completely sun burnt. It was hilarious. I showed up in flip flops too, because I thought like-

Chad Jordan:                Yeah. It's not a big deal. You're just commemorating one of the most important achievements you're going to have in life. Why get dressed up?

Adam Lawrence:          I didn't think about it.

Chad Jordan:                You'll be wearing a gown anyways.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Exactly. Flip flops. I was the only one. People stared.

Chad Jordan:                I'm glad it didn't scar you for life or anything.

Adam Lawrence:          Great times. I wore shoes for you, by the way.

Chad Jordan:                Thank you. When we do our selfie later, we'll have to make sure we get the shoe shot. You're still going. You're still in school.

Adam Lawrence:          I am. I didn't stop.

Chad Jordan:                That wasn't enough. The guy that in high school was like, "I'm never taking another class," is now addicted. What's your schooling like right now? What are you up to?

Adam Lawrence:          What led to this chain of events was during my time in undergraduate I worked at JPL, which is a NASA facility here in Pasadena, focus on ...

Chad Jordan:                Do we have to security clearance to listen to this portion of the podcast, or does this work?

Adam Lawrence:          Maybe.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. We might have big brother ... We'll have a Presidential Alert going out on all our phones here warning us not to listen to this portion of the podcast. Anyway, you're working at JPL, some NASA work, and loving it?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. It was just another amazing opportunity I was getting. I worked there-

Chad Jordan:                This started you were still in school when this was going on?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah.

Chad Jordan:                You were kind of doing both. I see.

Adam Lawrence:          I met some amazing faculty at PCC, which I keep plugging because it's an amazing school, and I owe them a lot. They directed me to people I can get in contact. I ended up working. I was academic part time at JPL, which means full time in between semesters, part time during. I worked in energy technologies, specifically the battery for there's this satellite that's going to fly in a couple years. It's called the Clipper. It's going to go to Jupiter and do a couple of flybys because they think that Europa, one of the moons there, could have life-

Chad Jordan:                Could have life.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Underneath the surface. Big old lake.

Chad Jordan:                All that water. There's got to be something swimming in it, you know?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Maybe. They wear flip flops there too. By being in this research environment, I could be, with a bachelor's degree, I could've worked there and been like a lab tech, which is an amazing job, great, but I wanted to be the person who would make the decisions. I was like a private at JPL. I was told what to do and how to do it, but I want to be I guess the officer, but, ugh, that's a gross thing to say.

Chad Jordan:                I know. For an enlisted guy to say that. Right. How about the sergeant at least? You know?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. Why not? Sure.

Chad Jordan:                That's led you to grad school?

Adam Lawrence:          Grad school. Yeah. I applied. I got into Claremont Graduate University.

Chad Jordan:                Which is not a shabby place to get an education.

Adam Lawrence:          It's pretty good.

Chad Jordan:                It's up there.

Adam Lawrence:          I don't know, just being on that campus, I'm just like, "This isn't real." I also ... I think probably 90% of the reason I chose that school is because I live half a mile from it, and I had been commuting about an hour and half to two hours every day for years. Now I'm there, and I love it. Its academics is also pretty good I guess. The plan, the goal, and especially thanks to Sports Clips and the VFW is now a master's program. That's two years. Going to take some classes, and then, after the two years, I take this test, the comprehensive exam, and it's basically, "Do I know everything about undergraduate math?" If I pass this exam, then I advance to the PhD level.

Chad Jordan:                You got your sights set on PhD as well?

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. That's the direction.

Chad Jordan:                Dr. Lawrence.

Adam Lawrence:          Dr. Lawrence.

Chad Jordan:                You mentioned, I got to do it because you mentioned Sport Clips and the VFW, so why are you saying thank you to them? What happened there? What's going on?

Adam Lawrence:          They just ... The scholarship really just kind of ... I'm deciding, "Do I want to be this lab tech?" Just a few months ago, I was like, "If I stay at JPL just with a bachelor's degree, lab tech, that's it."

Chad Jordan:                You're going to have a career-

Adam Lawrence:          Career, but I wanted that more. Then, you know the financial aspect of it. Seeing that bright, shiny paycheck compared to graduate student dimes and nickles. Then Sports Clips and the VFW came along, and they were like, "No."

Chad Jordan:                How did they come along? Walk me through this. I don't know how it works. Are we out there, Sport Clips out there, on college campuses saying, "Hey, everybody. Come sign up"? Is VFW waving a flag? How does that work?

Adam Lawrence:          I got the information from financial aid coordinators at CG Claremont. They're like, "Oh. You're a veteran. Hey, check this out. This is a great thing. This is the link. Look at it. Take a look at everything."

Chad Jordan:                That's cool. I didn't know college campuses even knew about this scholarship.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. It's there.

Chad Jordan:                They were the ones hyping it. That's cool. They put you in contact. Who do you go through? The VFW? Do you go to Sport Clips?

Adam Lawrence:          There's a website.

Chad Jordan:                Okay. They send you to the link.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. You guys, I saw YouTube videos of people walking around like it was like a thing. I was like, "Hey, that could be me. I could be the guy with his mind at ease thanks to you guys." Yeah, I just went to the website and followed the instructions.

Chad Jordan:                What's the process? You fill out an application.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. It's super easy.

Chad Jordan:                Was there an interview?

Adam Lawrence:          No. Just a little statement of purpose. Kind of who you are, what you're doing, where you're going.

Chad Jordan:                Then what was the turnaround? You fill it out on a Monday, and by Tuesday you know? Is it a couple months later?

Adam Lawrence:          I think it was a few months. Yeah, it was just, "Hey, congratulations. Here you go."

Chad Jordan:                Was that the push? Was that like, "All right. I should keep going, do the grad school thing, aim for the PhD?"

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. No. It definitely was.

Chad Jordan:                Again, you had a great career already going, but you want more. You want to be on that satellite to Jupiter one day, right?

Adam Lawrence:          That would be fun.

Chad Jordan:                With your flip flops and your Hometown Buffet coupons. Getting the scholarship is ... One of the things I love. I can't remember if it was with BJ or Lynn from the VFW. We were talking about veterans and how they transition to the civilian workforce. You even mention the intimidation factor sometimes. They don't want to finish their four year degree because they'll just go get a job. I think maybe you have seen what an advantage that training in the military has given you with discipline and that kind of stuff. It's almost an unfair. I mean, it's not unfair, but you know what I mean? It's a leg up that you already have, so just sometimes these pushes in the right direction is the momentum that you really need to propel you to these new heights and new places that you guys go to. It's pretty fascinating.

Adam Lawrence:          Yeah. I haven't gotten anywhere without someone pushing me. Joining the army, my parents were ... I owe that to Hometown Buffet and my parents.

Chad Jordan:                We should definitely link to Hometown Buffet in this podcast, the transcript of this at least. I love your story. The connection. I mean, you walked in here. We had just casually known each other. I feel like we're buddies at this point, and I'm serious. I'm starving right now, so I'm going to Google or Yelp the nearest Hometown Buffet, and maybe we can go grab some lunch or something. You've been tremendous. Everybody that's listening to his that's wondering what difference does Help a Hero make, I hope you've heard it from Adam today. His background, his story. He had already had known about, figured out, Pasadena Community College and kind of had already put those pieces together. For him, he knew he wanted something more out of life, but then the Help a Hero scholarship, the VFW came along and gave him that extra incentive to keep going for his graduate and, eventually, his PhD.

                                    I want to thank you. I mean, dude, I told you, "Just give me 15 minutes of your time today," and here we are, like I said, a half an hour later just because I've had such a good time with you. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Thank you everybody for listening and for supporting the VFW through the Help a Hero scholarship. At Sport Clips, especially all month, October 15th through November 11th, make sure you get donations into your local store and keep raising that money, because it's making a difference. Thanks again Adam.

Adam Lawrence:          Thank you. Thank you everyone.