It was the beginning of my junior year in high school. I was just becoming accustomed to Knoxville, which I have called my new home since moving from Orlando, Florida my sophomore year in high school. I had been making friends and adjusting myself to this new environment, and now it finally felt like home. As I was settling in., I realized something; I didn’t know exactly whom I was or what I wanted to accomplish in life. I had my most important year of high school dawning upon me and no time to spare. In order to discover what i was interested in, I joined the National Honor Society at my school. I felt it was an appropriate way to contribute back to my community as well as explore new hobbies and meet great people along the way.
During late September, I saw a great opportunity unfolding before my eyes. A local barbeque restaurant called Buddy’s Bar-B-Q was hosting a fundraising cancer awareness race around the Worlds Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. My father being a cancer doctor, this could not be turned down. When I arrived at the event, I saw an old man sitting alone on a bench, so I decided to join him.
He saw my volunteer shirt and thanked me graciously. His name was Jim and he described how he recently lost his wife to breast cancer, and had no children or close relatives to help ease the situation. He asked why I decided to volunteer for this race, and I explained my journey through school and how my father happened to be a cancer doctor. Before the race started, Jim pulled me aside and told me to remember one thing in life, “No matter how bad you feel rejected and alone in life, there is always someone who can help”
From that day on I did not think about Jim being an old wise man just shedding advice to somebody young, yet I saw him as a man who even though suffered the worst, still managed to live out all his life to the fullest. I realized that there is no way to map out the rest of my life; life is full of opportunities that have to be seized and experience can be taken from them. The University of Florida demonstrates a gateway to a world full of diversity and opportunity that I will successfully be able to grasp and take away great things from.