“The sentence that came out of his mouth sent shivers down my spine.”

How an academic award served as motivation in Daniel Collins’ scholastic career.

Daniel Collins, holding his Associate’s Degree from Union County College.

By Ryan Collins 9/21/16

During my senior year of high school, on Thursday, September 27th, 2012, I was in my art class working on an assignment, and, of course, I’m working on getting the supplies in order. My art teacher’s telephone rang, so my teacher, by the name of Brad Terhune, answered the phone and said, “Ok, I’ll send him down.” The sentence that came out of his mouth sent shivers down my spine. He put the phone down, and said “Dan, Mr. Smith wants to see you.” What did I do wrong? What happened? Did I have to be questioned over something? Travis Smith, who was the assistant principal at the high school, wanted to talk to me, and he’s the one who handled a lot of the disciplinary decisions. As soon as I walked to the office and opened the door, he told me to come on in. Then, he said, and I remember his sentence verbatim: “Dan, I just wanted to let you know that you were named the Crusader of the Month for October 2012.”

If I can remember correctly, it’s an award where they recognized you well with academics, extracurricular activities, things you do outside of school work, such as community service (which I did with Key Club) because they look for people who step out into those leadership roles. So, along with me being the manager of the varsity football team with the statistics, I contributed to the school newspaper from time to time, and just kept on top of all my academics. The fact that I got recognized for something like that, where a lot of those “popular kids” get chosen for it, I anticipated they were going to name someone else in that case. It really caught me off guard because I was never expecting to get that type of announcement. I remember walking back to class and having the sudden drive of excitement and a bright smile on my face as I left the office. I can remember texting my mom after school and she was like “OMG, that’s amazing, congrats!” I told my dad the same thing, he was as speechless and proud as we all were.

I use this to keep me moving forward because if I ever hit a struggle, I think to myself “‘Crusader of the Month’ Dan would never have quit,” along with my senior quote said by myself, “Nothing can stop DC.” I use it as one of those “superstar achievements” to encourage me to finish strong, which is what I did in high school. I also use this to finish strong in college, and achieve a Bachelor’s Degree, and be able to just move forward from school and into the work world.

I always live by the phrase where “hard work pays off.” Although I did work hard, that moment is just going to stand out there because I just remember how grateful I was, and it was such an honor for the month, of course until they named the ones for November. Just keep working hard with whatever you’re doing, because you never know when you’re going to get an announcement, a call, or a letter about achievements.

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