I Believe in Never Accepting Defeat

Author:  Jarrod McClendon, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I remember feeling like a complete failure. Not only had I lost my job, and my apartment, and my car, but I had lost my will to win. I lost the ability to keep fighting. At the age of 23, sleeping on my mother’s couch and doing side jobs for food money wasn’t the greatest expression of my new found adulthood. Those around me that actually knew that I was better and expected it. I had become so enveloped in my own desperation that I sank into a deep depression. All the while, I had a guardian angel pushing me forward. I’ve always felt that losing my grandmother, JoAnne, at such a young age, though devastating, was just Gods way of placing a protective hand directly over me. She was my protector. At an instance I knew that I needed a fresh perspective, a new start. I contacted an Army recruiter that was closely connected with my family and within the first few moments of our conversation I knew this was for me. The Army embraces lost boys like myself, and seeing that I didn’t have anything else to call my own, I embraced the Army in return.

Going through the training brought about its own challenges but nothing that I couldn’t take head on. There was a new found confidence that I was issued and for once in my life I felt like I was becoming the man I was supposed to be. No excuses, no material possessions to define me. Out of everything I had done the one thing that mattered the most to me was the lasting friendships that were created. I met and became friends with people that would forever shape my future and I don’t think I realized that until after we went our separate way. The day would eventually come when I had a choice. I could reenlist and continue to grow in the Army, or I could finish out my contract and exit to complete my degree. This was by far the hardest decision of my life.   But again, that guardian angel was there with that push. This time I don’t think she was alone. I had a couple of those good friends that I met in my five years pass away. These names were synonymous with dedication, courage, and strength. These were people I told my story to, people who knew my dream of graduating from TCU and becoming an officer. It is because of the spirit of these individuals that I am here doing what I am today. To come from my mom’s couch, to attending one of the best private schools our nation has to provide is truly a testament to what we can accomplish. No matter how devastated our lives may seem, never quit, never accept defeat. You never know who’s watching out for you.

I Believe in Not Being a Statistic

Author: Ashley Aguilar, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in not being a statistic, and overcoming those stereotypes that are placed upon oneself because of those statistics.

The statistic I face is the one that says “fewer than 2 percent of young mothers will finish college by age 30.” Or, the one that says “young women who give birth while attending a community college are 65 percent less likely to complete their degree than women who do not have children during that time.”

I am a young mother. I have a son named Nolan who is absolutely everything in my life. He was unplanned, unexpected, and unwelcomed by many people in my family. I was constantly being told how difficult it would be to finish school with a baby, and how I would never be able to achieve my dreams. At that time, I was enrolled in a local community college, unsure of what my next move would be. I tried to put on a brave face and say that I had a plan. However, the truth was that I did not know what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go, and how I was going to achieve my goals while also being a mother. Its like once you become a mother, you are only allowed to be a mother. You cannot have goals and dreams, and if you do they will be placed on the backburner. However, I refused to believe that. I wanted to be a mother, and a student. I still had dreams, and goals, and a future in my mind that I knew I still wanted to live. The only difference was that my future was no longer solely my own, but also my son’s. What really pushed and motivated me though, was the idea that my decisions no longer affected only me but also affected my son, because now not only am I a statistic but he is too. His statistics state that “only about two-thirds of children born to young mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of their peers with older parents,” or “children of young mothers perform worse on many measures of school readiness, and are 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade.” I refuse to allow society to pre-determine my son’s and my future. However, the only way I can overcome those statistics is by working hard, completing my degree, and creating a life for us that has, up until I had come to TCU, seemed unimaginable.

I want my son to see that our future’s may be pre-determined by society and the data they have collected, but that does not mean that we have to coincide to those numbers. I want him to see that success is achieved through hard work, and perseverance, and that he too can overcome any difficulties.

I believe in faith

Author: Laurie Burton, TCU Staff member, Nursing Department

My belief system began as a child and was greatly influenced by my family. I don’t remember attending church regularly until around the age of nine. My oldest brother started going to church regularly and I noticed a change in him. He was excited about an experience he had that he called salvation. He treated me differently, more loving and friendly. His change, from him being basically self-absorbed to this new personality, created a desire in me to change too. I started going to church with him and learned about the gospel.

I began reading the Bible and it came alive to me and made sense. I was convicted about my sin when I learned how Jesus, God’s perfect son had given up his life and substituted himself to redeem mankind. It amazed me that God loved us so much he would sacrifice his own son for corrupt people. When I realized how much God loved me, and that I could never be good enough on my own, I understood that I needed Jesus as my savior. By faith, I accepted his gift and confessed and repented of my sin and was baptized.

This experience completely changed my life. My desires were to please God, know his will for my life and serve him. My belief simply stated is that Jesus is God’s son, the Christ, Messiah, Savior and Lord of all creation. Sin separated people from God. God sent his son Jesus to be born of a virgin and was crucified on a cross as an atoning sacrifice. Jesus reconciled man to God through his death and resurrection. When we believe and put our faith in him, we are born again of the spirit. He rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for those who put their faith in him. One day he will return.

It gives me peace to know that no matter what happens; God will never leave or forsake me. My husband and children are all believers too, and I am so thankful for God’s blessings. My parents and oldest brother have since died, but I know I will see them again. These were times of testing for me and put life into perspective. God didn’t heal them physically, but gave them ultimate healing. I miss them, but I know where they are, and that one day I will join them. My mother used to tell me that death is graduation day. We have a God that understands our struggles because he came down to earth and lived as a man. Through the trials and storms of my life, God has always proven faithful. My heavenly father protects, provides, accepts and loves me. I look forward to graduating from TCU, but most of all, I look forward to the day when my heavenly father says “well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into your father’s rest.” Will you join me?

I believe in finding beauty through pain

Author: Kaitlyn Turney, TCU Student, Speech Pathology Major,Published fall 2012

I believe that grief can be crushing yet healing, bounding yet freeing. Through grief you become utterly lost but through the journey find yourself. The hardest times of life can be oddly beneficial and mold you into your future self, for better or worse.
October 12, 2010 was a day like any other: beautiful, peaceful, normal. Then I got a phone call that would change my life forever. “Your brother is no longer with us,” my dad says. My mind cannot comprehend this because he was only 17. How is it fair for his short life to be over? To make the situation worse, he took his own life. Questions upon questions will remain unanswered. “How can you do this to your family? Your friends? What right do you have?” Anger, sadness, bitterness washed over me and seeped into every pore.

No mother should have to bury her child. No father should see his son’s life cut short, especially by the son’s own hands. There’s no manual on how to process these types of conflicting emotions.  Every person close to my brother put some blame on themselves. “Did I miss a sign? Could I have prevented this? Did I push him over the edge?” But in time, one has to try to realize that there’s nothing anyone can do now. What’s done is done and playing the blame game will eat you alive.
Months of depression, sleeping days away, being haunted by constant memories and grief, struggling to function followed and still hit at times. Experiences like this push you to your limits and reveal how resilient you are and helps you realize how strong people can truly be. Did I bounce back instantly? Of course not. My ideology, faith, and essence of my very being were challenged. While everything in life was being torn apart, I slowly figured out how to put it back together and form myself into a person of greater empathy and love.

The journey through this pain and turmoil is one I am still on. Life as I know it and figuring out what I believe is still a work in progress, but there is satisfaction in being stretched to every extreme and learning the depths of my soul and mind. Am I glad this tragedy occurred? Frankly, no, but I know I would not be who I am today and have as much compassion if it did not happen. I am still not sure how I feel about that but growth still occurs.

Through this journey, I have come to realize that even through all the pain and suffering in the world, life is still inherently beautiful. This faith and outlook makes life worth living and brings joy on the most sorrowful of days.

I believe in persistence

Author: Ian Hirtz, TCU Student, Strategic Communications Major

I believe in myself. I was diagnosed with the learning disabilities of ADHD and Dyslexia at a young age. It started in third grade when my parents began receiving calls from my teachers about my progress in the classroom.

I fell behind as a result. I had trouble reading and paying attention. I was too young to understand what was happening to me, and I felt stupid compared to the other kids in my class. I was pulled out of school and placed in another school for kids with learning disabilities, “The Joy School.” My new school’s goal was getting me caught up with my peers so that I could attend a normal school again.

I never gave up hope and still believed I could persist through this challenge bestowed upon me. My mother was there to show me ways to deal with my disability — she believed and it helped me believe in myself.

I began developing a daily routine that I followed every day. I would wake up, brush my teeth, have all my daily belongings on my shelf so I wouldn’t forget anything, eat breakfast, grab my backpack next to the front door and off I would go to school. I repeated this every day of my life and still do.

I then started seeing a psychiatrist, who gave me medication to help me focus. I told myself I would never let this stop me from doing anything I want to do in life.

Being diagnosed at a young age has given me a different perspective on life. I never take anything for granted and never will. I have worked hard for all that I have accomplished to this point in my life.

Do not ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Life is full of obstacles and with the right drive, you can overcome anything you want.

You have to believe. I started in a normal school in third grade, transferred to The Joy School for five years, gained acceptance into a Catholic High School and now attend a prestigious university.



I believe that true grieving only happens when you are honest

Author: Elizabeth Leach, TCU Student, Environmental Science Major

Published: November 6th 2012

When you experience the death of a close family member at a young age like I did, you don’t realize the impact it has on your life until much later. My father died from a heart attack when I was eight years old. I saw him on his death bed and I said goodbye to him when he was no longer with us. His funeral was quite possibly the most impersonal thing I had ever been to. I was surrounded by all these “family members” who I had never met before, and who never spoke to me after that day. I just said “thank you” when they expressed their condolences. Being a military dependent, it was recommended that I see a psychologist until they believed I was “emotionally stable.” The doctor turned out to be just another stranger that didn’t trigger my need to grieve. The unsuccessful sessions lasted for three years.

I was just starting high school when I grieved for the first time. My mom was on deployment for seven months, and though I had someone to stay with me, I was alone. All the feelings I had been burying for years erupted and I caused myself and those around me a lot of pain. I misbehaved, I started failing on purpose, and I refused to talk to anyone about my dad. I was envious of all the kids who had two parents because I felt like I had none.

Finally, when my mom took notice of my behavior, she tried to understand why I was being so strange. I was always a good kid, and everything I had been doing was so unlike me. When I spoke to her, I got angry and I yelled and I blamed her. She was never there. Even before my dad died, she was always working. “I’ve never even seen you cry for him,” I said. I wanted her to hurt like I was hurting. That was, until I realized that all this time she had been. I had no idea that she was hiding so much pain. I found out that she had been diagnosed with depression and a range of several other medical problems since my dad’s death. We both learned a lot about each other and ourselves that day. I realized that my mom and I had both been trying to protect each other. My mom hid her grieving from me in the hope that I would be oblivious to such pain. I never allowed feelings of grief to enter my mind because I didn’t want my mom to worry. Little did we know, we were building up more pain for each other because it all exploded later. What we both needed was genuine communication. Our feelings needed to be discussed, not tucked away neatly in our minds somewhere.

Since that first instance of grief, I have cried for my dad several times. He did not see me graduate from high school, and he won’t be there when I get my bachelor’s degree or when I get married. I will never hear him call me “sugar” or “pumpkin” again and he will never take me out to buy new books to read. And, I’ll never get to ask him about his life and what it was like before I came along, but I will be able to ask my mom what her life was like. She was there when I graduated from high school and she will see my bachelor’s degree and meet my husband. She still calls me her princess and buys me new Star Wars books every time they come out. Most importantly, every year on March 1, we grieve for my father who we both miss and who we both reminisce about together.

I believe that true grieving is only possible when you are honest with yourself and your loved ones. The people who know you better than anyone are the only ones who have the ability to support your pain. I believe that ignoring feelings can lead to suffering and that you should express them in some way before they cause pain. I also believe that there is no right time to grieve. When you try to force someone to realize a loss, it only shuts them down further. Everyone has a different way and pace of mourning, but eventually their feelings do come to the surface and once they do, all you can do as a loved one is be with them physically and emotionally.