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Dylan Lewis might have mistaken his father’s abuse as tough love when he was a child; the youngster often was battered when his dad had been drinking. And although his grades were good in school, his poor conduct reflected the abuse he was experiencing at home. When the young boy’s conduct didn’t change, Dylan’s parents looked for answers. He was diagnosed with ADD and began to take medication that prompted even more unruly behavior. No one, including his mother, could understand why he was always in trouble at school. Over the years, his problems worsened: illegal drugs — first alcohol and marijuana, then cocaine — became part of his life; he was kicked out of high school; and robbery (to support his habit) landed him in jail.
Adversity was Dylan’s constant companion, but he says a year in jail helped him reconsider his path and turn his life around. The Eastfield College student’s struggles and, most importantly, successes were recognized when he received the 2007-2008 Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship Award.
The scholarship helped Lewis, a resident of Mesquite, reach for his dreams with financial support. The Erin Tierney Kramp Encouragement Scholarship Award covered full tuition and books for up to four semesters. Now the Eastfield College graduate can pursue his dream of earning a bachelor’s degree in economics as the first recipient of the new Southern Methodist University-DCCCD Kramp Transfer Scholarship.
Lewis, who will enroll at SMU for the fall 2009 semester, is the first person in his family to earn a college degree. He currently is working full time as a project manager for an engineering firm and is a part-time accounting/economics tutor. The SMU-DCCCD Kramp transfer scholarship will provide him with tuition for up to five semesters (a total of $78,000). He says that the ETK scholarship at DCCCD “... has brightened my life in ways unimaginable to me. It has given me a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence that eluded me in my life struggles. It has brought me an education that I will have for the rest of my life that extends itself through my undergraduate studies. Most importantly, it has brought me a family that is irreplaceable. I never imagined caring for so many amazing people. I get an extreme charge out of each visit with my ETK family, and it motivates me to continue pursuing greatness.”
That darkness began as a toddler and continued through Dylan’s elementary school years. At age 5, his father’s alcoholism meant that the youngster learned early to be quiet and avoid creating problems that meant a blow to the head or a kick while his mother was at work. Dylan, angry and confused, acted out his frustration at school, and his parents took him to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder and placed the youngster on medication. “I was a 10-year-old boy who had no concept of the world. I was convinced that I was defective and that I needed medication in order to be ‘normal’ like other kids,” Lewis recalls.
Dylan’s medication had a reverse effect, and he became more irritable and anxious, creating yet more problems in school. He tried alcohol and marijuana at age 12; got into more fights; accelerated his drug use in high school; and began to experiment with cocaine during his junior year to try to find happiness that others had. As an addict, hebecame homeless and stole to support his habit. After experimenting with LSD, Dylan went through a rehabilitation program, enrolled in a new high school, began to fight again and was arrested at school. He eventually earned his GED and entered a cycle of drugs, theft and probation until he spent a year in a Texas state correctional facility.
Lewis was involved in many activities as a student at Eastfield College and continues to build a new life. He served as vice president of leadership for Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honorary, and he was a member of the EFC Communication Club, the Business and Information Systems Club, the Fashion Club and Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Lewis also served as vice president of fellowship for PTK; in that capacity, he implemented a new annual Honors Study Topic Art Show.
The scholarship recipient also has volunteered in the community with Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, as a member of the SMU committee, and as team captain for Mesquite Relay for Life, and as a member of the event’s accounting committee.