I got the MOST AMAZING email today! It was addressed to the Dog Walker and it read like this:
Congratulations! You have been selected as a Salt Lake Community College
Graduate of Excellence representing the School of Humanities and Social
Sciences. Your academic and personal achievements embody the spirit of this
award. You will carry our School flag at Commencement ceremonies in May, and
you will be highlighted in a special video featuring all of the Graduates of
Excellence from throughout the College.
You all know his story and have followed his growth in college, but I want to leave you with his story told his way that became his application for this honor.
When I was 7 years old, I became a Tiger Scout. I really didn't like Scouts then. When they called me up for awards at Pack Meeting, I tried to hide under the table. I wouldn't look at the audience and I didn't speak. I have a mild to moderate form of Autism. But my mom believed that Scouts could really help me in my life, so she made me keep going to den meetings and she helped me earn badges when I wasn't at school in my cluster class. I earned all of the Cub Scout awards, even my Arrow of Light.
When I first became a Boy Scout, I started liking wearing my uniform and being with the other boys in the troop. Then I saw a boy who had about 30 badges on his sash. I wanted to be like him! I started working hard to earn merit badges and get my Eagle. Then I saw a boy in the newspaper who earned ALL the merit badges and soon I had a new goal.
When I told my mom that I wanted to earn all the badges too, she said she would help me achieve my goal. I worked so hard! It's hard for me to remember stuff, so I started keeping binders and writing everything down. The badges started piling up. My goal was to get 10 badges at every Court of Honor. Some of them were easy and some of them weren't. But I just kept chipping away at my goal. I knew if I stayed focused, I could get them all. Sometimes I had to do things I really didn't want to do like with the Chemistry badge when I had to try onions, but now I like onions and I'm not afraid to try new foods.
I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 12 years old, but I knew if I didn't learn I would never reach my goal, so I kept trying. I rode my 50-miler in a charity run at the Miller Sports Park. I earned $165 for charity and my cycling badge in the hot July sun wearing my Scout uniform and riding my dad's old mountain bike.
When Mom signed me up for band, I chose the trumpet so I could earn the bugling badge. I started my own businesses to help fund my Scouting activities. I grew and sold cornstalks for the Entrepreneurship badge and I started a Dog Walking service for the American Business badge. I was able to pay for my Scuba lessons, my pottery classes, and my climbing classes. I am still walking dogs. Scouting has taught me so much about so many different things. It has taught me not to be afraid and that if I work hard enough, I can accomplish anything.
Anything meant going to college. After I graduated from Bingham High School in 2012, SLCC gave me an academic scholarship because I had good grades. At first we just thought maybe I should try a few classes so I knew what college was all about, but we never talked about getting a degree or really going to school. It was hard! I was doing homework all the time. I signed up for about half my classes on campus and half of them online. After one year of school and SLCC kept giving me more scholarships, I decided I wanted to get an AS degree.
I had to start with the 900 classes in Math, Reading, and Writing. I went to summer semesters too. The first time I took Math 1010, I failed and thought maybe I would never be able to graduate. Then I took it again the next semester and with good tutors and a great teacher, I got a B. Now I’m in my very last class, Math 1050. I have finished all the other requirements for my degree and I have a 3.67 GPA. I am excited to graduate and transfer to UVU in the fall so I can finish the goal I set to become a special education teacher for elementary school kids. I never thought I could become a teacher, but learning to set goals in the scouting program showed me that I could do and be anything. Going to SLCC, working hard, and getting good grades reminded me that anything is possible for anyone, even an autistic man like me.