“You can't teach and old dog new tricks.” Meet Anthony Daniels, and you're bound to hear the SkillsUSA national officer recite that old saying. Because he believes it? Quite the contrary.
Anthony Daniels has been enrolled at Louisiana Technical College since 2001. He’s already received computer and networking specialist degrees and is working on a third in accounting technology. His list of extracurricular activities reads like the work of two students. He’s even started his own computer business, with the goal of opening computer labs for kids around his Lafayette neighborhood.
Biting off more than he can chew? Ask Daniels, 45, and he’ll tell you he’s simply making up for lost time.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t want to be a part of anything,” he remembers. Daniels dropped out of school while a senior, opting for a stint in the military.
He married in 1982, and a child followed soon after. “I knew I had to own up to my responsibilities,” Daniels says of wife Sailor and son Anthony Jr. He took a job as a manager in his brother-in-law’s restaurant, a position he held for 13 years. “I did everything,” he remembers, “from sweeping floors to washing dishes to waiting on customers.”
But yet it was just a job, nothing to get excited about. And as the years passed, his thoughts turned to his longtime love of computers. As he watched his own son struggle to decide what to do with his life, Daniels finally made the decision: It was time to go back to school.
At Louisiana Tech, Daniels embraced every opportunity that came his way. Still, something was missing until he joined SkillsUSA.
“SkillsUSA cares about who you are,” he says. “It was so amazing to me how people just opened their arms for me from the moment I joined.”
Daniels especially credits SkillsUSA’s Professional Development Program (PDP) for “waking me up. It opened my eyes to new ideas, to the capabilities I had.”
Suddenly the former “troublemaker,” as he freely admits, was running for local, then state, then national office in SkillsUSA, and the boy who shunned participation was now the man who relished being part of a team.
“The more you know about SkillsUSA, the more you want to know about it,” says the new college/postsecondary division president, the passion obvious in his voice. “I want to tell the world about SkillsUSA.”
He’s working with grant writers to make his dream of opening area computer labs a reality. He hopes to open his first lab within a year.
In sharing his story, Daniels stresses that it’s never too late to find your place in life. “They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” he laughs. “How wrong that is.”
SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2005 | Volume 40, No. 1