In the octagon cage as a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Brandon "HighVoltage" Adamson stands alone.
In a St. Ambrose University ACCEL adult learning classroom, Adamson is definitely not alone-stark contrasts to his classmates in demeanor, background and tattoo total notwithstanding.
Adamson said he appreciates the ACCEL program's team approach to learning, one where students and professors purposefully work together to enhance the skills and knowledge of one and all.
"Everybody is trying to better themselves," said the 32-year-old father of two. "You get treated with nothing but respect and everybody helps each other."
Adamson is a native Californian and high school dropout who came to the Quad Cities in 2000 to launch his fighting career under the tutelage of MMA legend Pat Miletich. Calling himself a product of the school of hard knocks, Adamson said he is happy to share a perspective born of experiences few of his fellow adult learning students know.
His classmates help him in return.
"A lot of the people I go to school with work at Deere and Company, work at ALCOA and they are older," Adamson said. "But at St. Ambrose, everybody realizes you have bills to pay, kids to feed and a career to build.
"I love the program and I love the fact that they treat you like an adult."
After a decade of training and fighting professionally, Adamson steps into the ring only occasionally now. His focus mostly is on the classroom and making a better life.
Adamson stands shoulder-to-shoulder with a growing legion of adult learners who bring a common set of goals to the St. Ambrose ACCEL program: a desire to learn, grow and improve their long-term job-market prospects.
"It's just wanting for more in my life," he said.