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At the Benedictine College Scholarship Ball on February 29, 2019, the college featured several students who were deeply impacted by the college’s mission of community, faith and scholarship and who are set to Transform Culture in America. The video above features an interview with Tyler Shephard, class of 2019. His words in the Interview follow:
Going to college was something that was foreign to the people who come from where I come from. You’ve got gangs, you’ve got drugs, you’ve got all types of crime around you, and that environment tends to take control of a lot of individuals
I knew that I wanted something more out of life. I knew I had the passion to help people that were in the same position as myself.
I am the youngest of seven children. I was born and raised on the far south side of Chicago. I’ve always had a loving and caring family growing up. But growing up in a neighborhood with violence and crime, you don’t escape unscathed. Out of my eighth grade graduating class, I know that I’m the only male to even graduated from a traditional high school setting.
I think that the desire to want to persevere came from seeing my mother and father work hard every single day, day in and day out, working 12-hour days just to make sure we have food on the table and clothes on our back. It made me want more. It made me want to do something to end the cycle of poverty, to show the people in my life and my friends around me that life is more than what we are accustomed to, life is more than what we can visually see and what is tangible at the moment.
I always had a dream of going to college and playing college football. Coach Gartenmayer came to my high school. The things that he talked to me about really stood out to me. Unlike every other coach I got an offer from, he talked to me about becoming a better individual, obtaining a quality education and developing lifelong friendships. That’s what truly intrigued me.
I would not have been able to come to Benedictine without a scholarship, at all. I didn’t have a college fund growing up, and I could have easily gone to a state school or one of the colleges in Chicago and I wouldn’t have been far enough away from the violence and everything else that plagued me while I was in that environment.
Atchison, Kansas, and Benedictine was completely different from everything I had been accustomed to. Although everybody was loving and caring, I felt like I was different from everybody else. But as time went on and with the help of mentors on campus, the seniors, the coaching staff, and my professors I was able to flourish in this environment.
When I finished undergraduate in May, I started to work at the family guidance center in St. Joe [St. Joseph, Mo.]. I work with children with behavioral and mental disorders and our goal is to help them build positive self-reliance and a sense of character development.
Back on campus, I’m working as a G.A. for diversity initiatives here on campus. That role allows me to meet and communicate with students of various backgrounds and make sure they feel immersed into the culture of the campus and that they feel a sense of belonging here.
I truly believe that the purpose of my life is to make a difference in the lives of others and that’s because people have done the same thing for me.
Benedictine has taught me that you’re not reaching your full potential if you aren’t helping other people maximize theirs.