Scholar Spotlight – Ethan

“Though letters seem small, I have found that the alphabet has been a central part of my life. Throughout my nearly two decades on this earth, letters have always been there, my journey unfolding in a series of alphabetic characters”.

Growing up Ethan has always loved letters. Not just for the simple symbols they represent on the surface, but also for the power each individual symbol has. For example, Ethan explains that letters make words, clauses, sentences culminating into something as complex as college essay. This love for the power of letters probably came from his father. When Ethan was 10 years old, his father went to prison, but Ethan wouldn’t really understand why for many years. He communicated with his dad using an Atbash Cipher during those early, more innocent years.

“For the last seventeen years, I have always seen my life, whether struggles of successes as being described by a series of letters. Through them I have come to identify, understand and overcome my weaknesses. The letters and the words have helped me figure out who I am, but now I feel that I am growing beyond them. Through college and beyond, I will craft my own letters and words. Nobody else, nothing else, can tell me who I am, what I can do, where I will go. I am at the author of my own story.”

Letters also have the power to label a person. Like most students, Ethan always strove for his favorite letter, A. But also like many students, he found it difficult to obtain the label “A Student”. He heard the same thing from his teachers and parents, “Ethan is intelligent, but he doesn’t apply himself” and by high school, when his consistent As turned to Cs and Ds, he began his emotional and mental health spiral into distress and a suicide attempt.

Fortunately, Ethan was able to get help and was admitted to a local psychiatric hospital. The first thing he noticed upon admission was a new label. On a whiteboard, he learned he was an S. He learned that all of the patients had a letter associated with their names according to their admission status. “D was for Discharged. Everyone wanted to become D. Nobody needed to become D. But eventually, we all did.” It was there that he learned a new set of letters that began to define his life: ADHD. “Suddenly the As and Bs and the Ds and Fs were all behind me. I was a new person, with an enhanced understanding of my own mind.”

“I am the author of my own story,”

We are excited offer a new set of identifying letters: JCRF Family Member. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ethan will be majoring in English/Writing at Western Carolina University. The essay that he wrote for us as a part of his application was published in his local high school paper, it’s honestly the best essay I have ever read, and we read hundreds every year. It still gives me goose bumps. But what Ethan doesn’t talk about is the fact that he is an Eagle Scout. His Eagle Scout project was to create a common cupboard for the elderly. He also writes in his free time, which makes sense. He is going to change the world with his writing.

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Scholar Spotlight – Maya

This month’s Scholar Spotlight is a little different, it’s in Maya’s own words. I think she can tell her story better than anyone! I have wanted to be a writer forever. Even as a kid, I had so many ideas for the future that I answered the question of what do you want to be […]

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