Sean looks up with a wry smile on his face and says, “You know, I’ve climbed every tree on the Epworth campus.” This interesting feat, as well as some very happy memories, are what Sean wanted to talk about as he prepared to leave Epworth to join the Army at the end of August. Sean came to Epworth five years ago when he was in high school, and here he found a stable, compassionate environment full of people who helped him become a young adult.
Sean describes himself as a loner when he came to Epworth, having lived in a household without any other children. One of his first Epworth memories is the fun and happiness he gained from meeting new people his own age and having friends with whom to interact and share experiences. “I was so happy when I got to Epworth and found friends quickly. Every day at high school I made friends, but it was really nice to come back to Epworth after school and have my real friends here.”
Entering the Army is a lifelong dream of Sean’s. “Ever since I was a little boy, I have wanted to be in the military. Now, getting to enlist and get ready for basic training is very exciting,” Sean explains. He will complete his basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, a long way from home. Sean says he is ready for the travel and looking forward, as he puts it, “to be in the Army and be a success.”
Sean’s memories of his time at Epworth are full of the Christmas celebrations, alumni weekend festivities where he worked along with Epworth alumni, and times with volunteers, the “cottage partners” of the cottage in which he has lived at Epworth. He also remembers fondly special times like going to movies, Carowinds, and a trip to the Bubba Gump restaurant in Charleston where, according to Sean, he ate a record number of shrimp.
On a more serious note, Sean has another memory of Epworth that he says will profoundly affect the rest of his life. During his initial adjustment upon arriving at Epworth, he toyed with the idea of dropping out of high school. With help and encouragement from Epworth staff, he realized that this would be a mistake. He worked hard to get his diploma, and has come to understand that this diploma is his gateway to success as an adult. “I couldn’t have joined the Army and made that dream come true if I hadn’t graduated from high school. Everybody at Epworth made me realize that,” Sean explains. His message to current Epworth students is to complete their high school education and never consider dropping out of school.
When asked where he would like to travel during his time in the Army, Sean gives a thoughtful and optimistic answer. He responds, “Anywhere I go for the first time is the best place I have ever been.” This sort of open-minded and forward-looking philosophy will serve Sean well during his Army experience, and speaks highly of the young adult Epworth has helped him to become.