by Vicki Heisser |
Being from a military family, Dylan Williams has lived in many places. He has seen and done a lot for a nineteen-year-old. Most recently from Metlakatla, AK, Dylan is an Eagle Scout, graduated valedictorian from his high school, and received a college scholarship to begin his studies at Prince William Sound College (PWSC).
As an Eagle Scout, Dylan learned to lead, to serve and to sacrifice to accomplish goals. He gained confidence and learned to persevere, and these things are serving him well as he enters PWSC’s outdoor leadership program.
Dylan has been a PWSC student for a few months now, and already he’s learned a lot. “I thought it was going to be kind of like Boy Scouts or something I’ve done in the past, but I was completely wrong. There’s so much more you get in this program.”
One of the things that Dylan has learned is that the outdoor leadership program is not only teaching him outdoor skills, but it is also showing him the importance of conservation and giving him life lessons that will help him in his future. “Our teacher teaches us these little things that carry on to much bigger things in life. During one of our camping trips, we were sitting on top of this mountain and we decided we were going to sleep under the stars. Benjamin Rush [the instructor] pulled out this NOLS book and read a passage from an American Indian chief, Chief Seattle, talking about how we, as a people, need to take care of the land.”
Learning these words of wisdom and going on these trips, has impacted Dylan in many ways. “I kind of built a family here. All of us are really tight in outdoor leadership.” Dylan knows that his instructors and classmates want him and everyone to succeed, and that sometimes, before success comes obstacles.
One obstacle Dylan has faced is managing his educational challenges. “When I lived in Texas, I saw a doctor for my dyslexia and the test anxiety it caused. I was not performing in school and on tests, and it was also getting in the way of sports. I wanted to do my best, not just for myself but for my family.” But Dylan didn’t let his challenges deter him, he didn’t want to give up.
Having been homeschooled most of his life, Dylan began attending public school in high school. It was here that he began to work through his educational challenges. “When I started going to high school, my stress level was really high, but I kind of overcame that. My grades were like a 4.0 GPA in high school. However, some educational challenges were still there when I came to this college, but Ben talks to us one-on-one and that kind of helped me open up to people.”
Dylan’s outdoor leadership instructor, Benjamin Rush, has helped him with his challenges, and so too has being in the outdoors. For Dylan, Alaska is a beautiful, sometimes dangerous, but ultimately a calming place. “It is calming because just sitting there, you know, you have to be aware of bears and that kind of thing, but it’s all part of being in nature. They’re like part of you. So it is very calming. It's like you're surrounded by creation, and you are supposed to treat them like brothers and sisters. It's almost like you're surrounded by family when you're in nature. And what's more calming than family, you know?”