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After turning 16, Shia decided it was time to get a job off campus. He approached the job search as if it were a puzzle to be solved. He calmly analyzed the situation, researched possible solutions, and put a plan in place. In preparation for getting a job, Shia and one of his cottage mates put their heads together to write a resume, which included two summers working at the recreation center on campus and helping with chores around the cottage every night after supper.

When Shia put in his application at a local McDonald’s, he made sure the managers remembered him. He spoke with them in person and continued to follow up after the first meeting. The most important thing he did was memorize the McDonald’s mission statement and quote it back during his interview. Two days later Shia got a call back with a job offer.


“I’m at this point in my life where I have to work hard for my future and not just be lazy,” Shia said. Being lazy is definitely not in Shia’s nature. Oftentimes he can be found walking on the sidewalk near the campus, working out all of his pent-up energy. He sprints across a parking lot to toss a bottle in the trash, beats out a rhythm on the crosswalk button, and leaps over the four steps that lead up to the entrance of a local restaurant.

“Sometimes I sing,” he explained. “I’m in varsity choir so I practice as I walk.”

Even though he passes plenty of people on the sidewalk and cars waiting at the traffic light, Shia doesn’t hold back. “I don’t care if anyone hears me because I have confidence in my singing.”

Confidence is key in Shia’s book. If one is confident in their skills, they have no reason to hide them. “I have confidence in my grades, my social skills, my athletic ability,” he lists.

Since working at McDonald’s, Shia has added another item: customer service skills.

“Obviously with customers, it’s talking to them differently than you would with a friend. You’ve got to greet them with a lot of respect so they’ll treat you with a lot of respect,” Shia said. 

Even when a positive attitude isn’t reciprocated, Shia knows has to keep moving forward. “I’m going to put forth the same amount of energy, but I’m not going to let it affect me if they don’t respect me back. I just need to keep going with my job.”

This level of maturity is a hard-won prize. Since being at the Ranch, Shia has learned a lot about the kind of man he wants to be. His athletic abilities, work ethic, and success in school have set a course toward a bright future.

“I want to be a professional football player in the NFL,” Shia announced without hesitation.

He practices every evening after dinner, investing as much time as he can in improving his skills. As Shia enters the workforce and begins planning for his future, he understands that there is a lot of change waiting for him.

“It’s just a part of life,” he explained. “You can’t be scared of it. You can’t go forward in your future if you’re just going to dwell on the past.”