2022 Scott Wright Student Essay Contest Winner Rebekah Wilson

Rebekah Wilson

2022 SEC Winner
Rebekah Wilson

2016 SEC Winner Paloma Marinelarena

Calm and Constant

As the daughter of foreign parents, when I graduated high school, none of us were properly equipped with the tools to navigate the American Higher Education system. After a brief attempt at attending a university where the staff and faculty seemed distant and uncaring, I returned home disappointed and spooked at the idea of ever returning. Shortly thereafter, I married and became a mother and higher education was something I looked at in the rear-view mirror for a very long time.

Many years and many moves later, I found myself living around the corner from St. Johns River State College. Still, it took some time for me to work up the nerve to try again. Eventually I did, and the enrollment process led me to the Counsellor’s Office where I met Dr. Patrick Arnwine and I’m very excited for the opportunity to shine a light on this very special educator.

Dr. Arnwine began by advising me on what courses to take, but as various student and college opportunities came along he’d, encourage me to try to take advantage of them. Without even realizing it, he helped me rebuild my confidence by encouraging me to take risks – and rather than be afraid of the outcomes, to embrace them– no matter what they might be. He helped me remember that disappointments aren’t failures, but rather experiences that we can learn from.

Along the way there have been obstacles. For instance, during the time when I was grieving the death of my mother and I’d begun to have terrible panic attacks, Dr. Arnwine would let me stand in his office behind the door and just cry, or catch my breath just long enough so that I could carry on. Through every challenge, Dr. Arnwine remained a constant and continued to encourage me. He was never too busy to answer a question or simply lend a listening ear. He has a naturally peaceful approach that brings a sense of calm to every situation.

A full-time working wife and mom, I’ve only been able to take one or two classes at a time, and have even had to sit out a semester or two. This has made the road seem long and tedious. More than once I’ve been tempted to just stop. But, in a very calm yet deliberate way, Doc would simply say “Don’t you dare.”

Over time I’ve realized that his unique ability to champion students and help people is not something shared with only me, but with all of the students he encounters and assists. His light-hearted encouragement and support are effortless and wildly sincere.

Now, having learned enough to help my own two children achieve the thing that I could not at their ages, I am forging ahead to complete my own education with just one course left to complete my undergraduate degree, and one more course away from completing two separate, additional business certifications. Dr. Arnwine is a true gift to higher education.