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Essay contest winner announced

By Boyd Urban, Emily Johnson and Michael Eubanks

Chemeketa student Tyson James was recently awarded $500 in cash for winning first place in the “Hold Fast to Dreams” essay contest presented by Chemeketa Reads.

James was notified shortly after the awards committee made their decision on May 19.

“I was completely surprised. I was honestly really shellshocked and humbled to have been chosen,” James said.

Profile shot of Tyson James

Contest winner Tyson James at the “Hold Fast to Dreams” essay contest award ceremony. Photo by Caleb Wolf

In his essay, James reflects on his long journey to achieve his goal of becoming a paramedic. James has been working as an EMT while working towards his goal and plans to graduate from Chemeketa in July.

For James, the essay was an easy one to write. James said that it only took between 10 to 20 minutes to create a rough draft.

“I just kinda thought of some good anecdotes that I lived through,” James said.

“[I] came up with some ideas and wrote them down. [In] my intro paragraph, about the bad belly flop I witnessed down in Bandon OR, I saw a man jump off a cliff into a lake and he landed on his head. That was a good story. That’s what initially made me want to become a first responder. Not being able to help a man in his worst moment. I wrote the rough draft, read it aloud, [and] had my wife and others edit it,” James said.

“It’s been a long road for me, being diagnosed with epilepsy, not being able to drive. I thought it was a good story to tell. I really believe in people sticking to what they believe in. I could have gave up multiple times. I think that people who never give up or have grit are some of the most successful in life,” James said.

James said that he hopes his essay will motivate others to continue to pursue their dreams.

“I really believe I had a good story to tell. I don’t brag. But I like to help other people and want to encourage them not to give up on their dreams,” James said.

A traumatic belly flop

By Tyson James

When I was 18 years old I witnessed a bad belly flop into shallow water change someone’s life forever; a man suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury. As I maneuvered a motionless, unconscious body to the sandy shore I felt helpless and vulnerable. After this experience I vowed to never feel that defenseless in a crisis again. This lit a fire in me to go to college to become an Emergency Medical Technician. I hadn’t found a purpose for college, or my life, until this. Currently, I am continuing my education at Chemeketa Community College in the Paramedic Program to serve my community in a more advanced and unique way.

Over the past six years as an EMT I have had the honor of serving our community in so many different facets. I will never forget all of the life lessons I have accumulated from patients and caregivers alike. From blowing bubbles as a volunteer at OHSU’s Pediatric Emergency Department, responding as an EMT in the rural community of Vernonia, or being a Technician at one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the Northwest, Providence St. Vincent’s, I have had invaluable guidance. I am striving to be a Paramedic because I understand the necessity to be pliable and dynamic in meeting the needs of each patient. I am so honored to be in Chemeketa’s prestigious Paramedic Program so I can achieve my dream of being a calm voice and helping hand on someone’s worst day.

The transition from EMT to Paramedic is a ten-month “crash-course” that takes time and dedication. During our winter break this year, I had my first, and also second, grand-mal seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Not only was I shocked with this diagnosis and had to adjust my body to a harsh medication, but I was prohibited from driving for three months. At the beginning of the term I made the decision to stay enrolled and to persist through a long term of didactic and clinical learning. I was graciously given the chance to take a term off, but my motivation and fire inside of me to become a Paramedic was stronger than any roadblock that could get in my way. This challenge has made me hungrier to become a Paramedic and finish my education experience as strong as I can.

I feel encouraged and hopeful for the future because in this profession I will never stop learning. Education is the key to success and growth. Education has given me grit and taught me how to be a servant leader. I am rejuvenated when Senior Paramedics or Chemeketa Alumni exemplify servant leadership and return to mentor the next round of providers. College is so necessary; not only to better an individual’s life, like it has for me, but also to help and support communities. Chemeketa has given me hope and encouragement for the future because it has equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and passion to never be vulnerable in crisis again.

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