Utah State Counselor Association Lynn Jensen Memorial Scholarship Recipient
Derek moved from Idaho to Utah to live with his grandmother after living in an abusive situation with his mother and stepfather. “My home life was more than any one person could bear,” said Derek. One day on his way to school Derek was in a car accident. As a result of the accident he received a serious traumatic brain injury that caused him to miss most of his junior year of high school. “My grandmother helped me get the medical and psychological care I needed. When I moved in I was afraid all the time and wouldn’t leave the house. I was really behind in school. While I lived in Idaho my grades weren’t very good. My freshman year I had a 2.28 grade point average. My sophomore year my average dropped to 1.89 and I had only earned a total of 11.49 credits [towards graduation]. I missed almost all of my junior school year due to my car accident and my hard home life. I felt hopeless and didn’t even know where to start.”
Eventually Derek was able to return to school. With the encouragement and support of Ms. Larsen Derek began to thrive in school, while also taking a CTE class in drafting. “During the spring of 2014, I was making medical progress and wanted to return to school. Ms. Larsen, my school counselor, reviewed my case and convinced Ben Lomond High School that even though I was really behind I was smart and worth the risk. Although I was still emotionally and physically broken, she helped me return to school for the 4th quarter of the 2014 [school year]. Daily Ms. Larsen talked to me, supported me, and encouraged me. Ms. Larsen encouraged and helped me start online high school classes. I began and completed four online classes. My grade point average rose to 3.66.”
With the guidance and encouragement of Ms. Larsen Derek enrolled in summer school at Ogden Weber Applied Technology College, where he caught up on his school work so he could graduate with his senor class. He later enrolled in Weber State University where he earned seven hours of concurrent enrollment credit. Ms. Larsen assisted Derek in registering for the ACT (scoring 30), complete college registration, and apply for scholarships. Ms. Larsen is his school counselor, advocate, friend, and most of all his hero.
Derek describes how, within one year, his life drastically changed for the better thanks to the guidance and direction of a school counselor who believed in him 100 percent. “One year ago I had no hope, no happiness, no dream, and was afraid all the time. I now understand and believe coming from such adversity doesn’t mean my life is over. I feel safe and know I have a real future. If Ms. Larsen hadn’t been an advocate for me, providing direction, encouragement, and support, I would have been considered a lost cause. She believes in me, works with me, makes me feel like I matter, and that I truly belong. I feel happy for the first time in my life, love school, and know I can do something positive with my life. Thanks to Ms. Larsen, I now believe in myself and I have worked very hard this last year. I have caught up in school and am earning credits towards my college degree. I now have a bright future and will attend college next fall.”
Derek will continue his education at Weber State University, where he will study computer science, after also being awarded the Weber State University Presidential Academic Scholarship.
Derek’s experience has been life changing and he hopes to someday provide help to someone in a similar situation. “People may say, counselors don’t do much, but Ms. Larsen is and will always be my hero. Words can’t express the gratefulness and care I feel towards her. I hope someday I will be able to pay it forward by providing a life changing opportunity to someone like me who is lost and hopeless in life. Ms. Larsen has helped me become a better person. She has taken the time to believe in me, support me, and encourage me. Because of her I know I will do great things in life.”