Never Count Yourself Out: Trevor Hayes’ Senior Column

Five years ago, I nearly dropped out of high school. Roughly one week from now, I’ll be a Penn State graduate. Life is unpredictable.

I remember it like it was yesterday: my first day of high school. So much freedom, so many new faces.  As a freshman, the future looked bright, but that light dimmed quickly. As a matter of fact, it nearly went out.

Throughout my freshman year of high school, I experienced a combination of things and situations that I never thought I’d have to deal with. How can I have anxiety? I’m just a kid from a small town in New Jersey. What do I have have to worry about?

As a young student, I felt I had a lot to worry about. When sophomore year came around, I stopped eating. I remember my beloved grandmother telling me how skinny I was. Little did she or anyone else know how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. I was so so sad that I was considering myself depressed. My mother wanted me to see someone but I refused because I was ashamed. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like my friends, but I just wasn’t, which tore me apart.

Once junior year came around, I wanted out. School just wasn’t for me (nor will it ever be). My mother suggested transferring and or even homeschooling me, but I was too phased out to even consider those options. I was ready to give up on school and I was ready to give up on my future. But before I threw in the towel for good, I tried to find a little spark of life in my soul in an attempt to get myself out of my rut. Luckily, I was able to find the spark and it saved my life.

I completely turned myself around, I graduated high school and ended up attending a local community college, where I reset my life completely. I got fantastic grades, got a job, and most important, began to love myself again. My first year passed by and I began looking at universities that I could transfer to. I won’t go into detail about my decision process because, well, we all know where I ended up.

I’ll never forget the day and the rush of emotions I had when I decided on Penn State. I felt reborn, proud, and accomplished. My first two years of college were a step in the right direction. The next two will be in Happy Valley, where I’ll put the pieces together.

During my journey, so many people counted me out and tried to step on me and my dreams. As I look back, I couldn’t care less. I didn’t give a damn about what anyone had to say about me. I was so focused on proving to myself that I had the capability of being a success and wasn’t going to stop until I did so. It was time to begin a new journey — my Penn State journey.

The day my parents dropped me off, I was all alone. I felt like a freshman college student when they get dropped off by their parents, except a few years older. I knew no one and felt like I was a little fish swimming in the ocean. Little did I know that these last two years were going to be the greatest years of my life.

I’ve met so many amazing people in a bunch of different organizations who have helped me continue my life in the right direction. I felt like I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone during my time at Penn State. All I had to do was be myself, work hard, and stay the course. I kept pushing myself harder and harder each and everyday because I wanted more. Just like in community college, I wanted to show myself that I could achieve anything my heart desires.

Looking back at what my life was like five years ago really shocks me and makes me tear up from time to time. If I hadn’t found that tiny spark and ended up dropping out, my life would have been completely different. No Penn State degree or experience, no community college education, no high school diploma, no job; the list goes on and on. To be completely honest, if I had made the wrong decision, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t be alive. This is difficult to write out, but I know that there are people out there that have gone or are currently going through troubles similar to mine. I’m here to tell those people to never ever give up on yourself. I’m living proof that you can overcome anything that’s thrown at you. It’s easier said than done and it may take time, but it can be done. You are the person in control of your future, your education, and your life. You just have to strike up the courage to find it in yourself to make a change. I was nearly at rock bottom and now I’m continuing my steady climb to the top.

If you’ve made it this far into my life story, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I owe many thanks to the people that have been with me from the start and even to those who have been with me for the last few weeks.

My family: You’ve always been there for me every step of the way and I appreciate every little thing you do for me. The good morning texts from my mother and long phone calls with my father will always hold a special place in my heart. You’ve never questioned my dreams and you’ve always supported them. I promise I will continue to make you proud of your son.

Owen Deroba and Marc Arce: I literally don’t know what I to say about you two. The combination of ball-busting, love, and laughing at each other’s stupidity is what makes our friendship incredible and interesting. I’ll never forget the days skateboarding downtown or playing video games late at night because we thought we were cool. Both of you mean so much to me. Thank you for everything.

David Abruzzese: You were my first real friend at Onward State and have grown into a brother figure. You’ve always listened to my ideas, believed in my creativity, and gave me a chance. I’ll never forget the amazing moments we’ve shared together, from the Fiesta Bowl to crying outside The Skeller when it closed. You are a friend for life.

Matt Sniegowski: I’ll never forget the moment on the field where we hugged each other because we realized Penn State had won the Fiesta Bowl. I’ve had so many incredible, heartfelt moments with you that I will cherish forever. I’m happy to leave the visual squad in your hands.

Oyoma Asinor: During my time at Penn State, you and I became a dynamic duo for concert photography. I’m so happy to be shooting my last Penn State concert with you.

The Florida Boys: What happens in West Palm Beach stays in West Palm Beach.

James Turchick and Alex Bauer: The bond that we developed in Florida will never be broken nor forgotten. You two have made me do some pretty stupid things over the course of this semester, but I live my life today with no regrets. What I’m really wondering is what ridiculous things will we do before we graduate.

Nathaniel Pinskey: We go to the Gaff way too much, but that’s where we both became close to one another. You definitely have an addiction to Yallah so I really don’t know what you’re gonna do when you graduate.

Emma Dieter: From gossiping at Irving’s to flexing on everybody at formal, I’ll never forget the moments we’ve shared over the past year. It was an honor to share my last year at Penn State with the NRT queen. Please let me crash on your floor during football weekends next season. 

Gabi Stevenson: We’ve always gotten along, we’ve always conversed, but these last couple of weeks I’ve shared with you have meant so much to me. We’ve been attached at the hip, which is why we can never keep our Snapchat streak going. I can party with you one day and then have deep, late-night conversations the next. You’re there for me no matter where we are and that means the absolute world to me. Listening to “Nice For What” just isn’t going to be the same without you.

Onward State: I consider all of you my family. Every single one of you is unique in your own way, which is why I love all of you so much. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of you because you’re such talented individuals.

Everyone: Just remember, never count yourself out.

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About the Author

Trevor Hayes

Trevor Hayes is a senior majoring in Telecommunications and is the Visual Manager for Onward State. Prior to Penn State, he received his A.S. of Digital Media/Film Studies at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. Trevor is enjoys creating basically anything to do with media, literally anything! Radio shows, sound mixes, films, television segments, photography, you name it, he's probably done it. Death threats and inquiries can be sent to [email protected] or follow me on Instagram @tshayes22 to view my #content.

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