Growth in Change

Residential Lead, Shawn Ziluck, shares a story about his own journey of self-discovery, paying attention to “what has heart and meaning” and embracing responsibility.

Residential Lead, Shawn Ziluck

Residential Lead, Shawn Ziluck

Like many of our students at Cherokee Creek, I had a very difficult time taking responsibility for my actions in my adolescence. My willingness to trust the criticism and advice the adults in my life gave me was non-existent and often fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until I was preparing to graduate from high school that the words I had tried so hard to ignore came back to haunt me. 

The thought of going to college was exhilarating at first, but quickly faded as I saw my father come home from his second job cringing in pain and barley able to walk. I began to realize the sacrifices he had made, and would be making,  to provide me with the opportunity to go to college. I knew in my heart I was not ready for college and would surely waste the money he had worked so hard for, and more importantly the blood, sweat, and pain he had endured to do so.

It was then that I learned what it meant to be grateful and what it meant to have a strong work ethic. It was the acknowledgement of his efforts and my feelings of gratitude that lead me to take responsibility for my life. I postponed college and joined the Navy, which also taught me integrity, leadership, respect, compassion, courage and committment in addition to responsibility.

Nearly 14 years later I find myself surrounded by the boys at CCBS as they face many different transitions that act as catalysts in their journey of self-discovery. I have found that change and transition force us to look again at the things that occur to us, within us, and around us.  This is how our students grow and gain insight into their own personal truths.

Many of our students embark on a new journey as they see their peers graduate and transition home. Though it is typically a happy and joyous time, the graduates leave the remaining students with a void to fill. The void that is left often sends their groups into disarray. As they struggle with the loss of leadership and friends, many students are thrust into to new and unfamiliar roles within their groups. 

Amongst the changes and challenges they face, an incredible thing begins to happen: followers become leaders, and boys become young men.

When in your life have you embraced responsibility and embarked on a new journey?


Cherokee Creek Boys School is a therapeutic Boarding School for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (2)