From Low-Wage Worker to Senior Accountant
Part 1: Landon Roe’s Inspiring Journey
Another day. Another double shift.
6 a.m. Rutter’s convenience store. Behind the register. Ringing up coffee, breakfast sandwiches, snacks, cigarettes, gas, lottery tickets and more, as the commuters roll in before they head to Baltimore, Harrisburg, Lancaster and scattered points in between. They keep coming. It’s nonstop for three straight hours. Finally, around 9:30, things slow down. Time to take a breath, use the bathroom and grab a drink.
Okay, back to it. Gotta restock, refill, replace. Prep for the next wave. Make sure the cash drawer is right. Don’t wanna run out of ones or quarters when the lunch rush hits. Grab the trash cart and empty the outside cans. Check the levels on window-washer fluid. Get back inside to the register. And then the lunch rush hits! The store quickly fills with workers ordering sandwiches and wraps, grabbing pre-mades from the carousel, stocking up on drinks and smokes for the afternoon ahead Gotta keep the line moving. Don’t want to get the evil eye from a bunch of hungry, grumpy customers.
Schewww, the madness is ending. Finally. 2 p.m. Time to punch out… and then head for job #2.
Make the 15-minute drive to the South York Diner. Go in the back, grab my smock, notebook and pen. Say hi to my co-workers. There’s a little time before the dinner craziness. Wait on a few customers. Then a few more. Suddenly, the place is hopping. Got 10 tables to cover. 27 customers, 27 dinners. Go, go, go!
The pace is steady and relentless. Back and forth between the kitchen and customers. Great to see some of the regulars. Hear about their kids and grandkids. The dinner rush eventually winds down. A few late customers.
Punch out. Head home. Hit the pillow. Do it all again tomorrow.
Eat, work, sleep. Press repeat. Sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. No weekends or evenings of. The days, weeks and months just blurring by. That was Landon Roe’s life for nearly two years. He knew that pace wasn’t sustainable. “When I was working two jobs,” he says, “I thought if I didn’t go to college that I’d end up struggling the rest of my life. I wanted a better quality of life.”
Fast-Forward to Now
Five years later… and much has changed in Landon’s life. He possesses two accounting degrees—an associate degree from York Technical Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Central Penn College.
He works as a senior accountant at DHC USA. He’s had four accounting jobs with three companies. He’s been on a steady upward trajectory, climbing the corporate ladder, one progressive rung at a time, since earning his associate degree.
His journey mirrors the experience of many Central Penn students. He’s a first-generation college graduate. He’s a transfer student. And he worked full-time while earning his degree.
It hasn’t always been easy, but the journey has been well worth it.
“On being a first–generation college student: The answer is to surround yourself with good people who will support you.” – Landon Roe
Landon grew up in Brogue, a small community in southern York County. He has two siblings, a much older brother and a younger sister. His parents divorced when he was young. Starting in elementary school, he helped his mom by doing chores around the house. That strong
work ethic has stayed with him.
He attended Red Lion High School, but he was just putting in his time. “I wasn’t the best student,” he admits. “I didn’t get involved in any club or activities. I just wanted to get done.” He worked part-time at Rutter’s and the diner throughout his junior and senior years.
As soon as he graduated, he moved out. Landon wanted to be on his own and live life on his terms. But he didn’t know how challenging (and expensive) it would be. All those things—rent, utilities, food, household supplies, etc.—that were magically taken care of at home were now his responsibility.
He worked two full-time jobs to make ends meet and, hopefully, to get ahead. The thought of going to college hadn’t germinated yet. Nobody in his family had gone to college, so it wasn’t really on his radar screen.
“If they’re surviving without college, maybe I can survive, too,” was his thinking. Eventually, he came to realize he wanted to do more than just survive… he wanted to thrive. And if he wanted to do that, it would require a radical change.
As he worked those long days, Landon remembered his Accounting I class from high school. Credits, debits and balance sheets. Profit-and-loss statements. The subject matter was challenging and the teacher tough. “I did pass, but I ended up thinking that accounting wasn’t really my forte,” he said.
However, as time went on, he began to reconsider accounting as a career choice and as a path to a better life. “I remember looking at the demand for accounting jobs and the salaries, realizing I could make a decent living in accounting,” he says. The dress code also appealed to him. “When I was in elementary school, I remember I liked to wear dress pants and dress shirts, so something in business was meant for me.”
After 18 months, it was time for a change. Landon signed up for the fall semester at YTI.