MURRAY, Ky. — Jared Hill of Murray, Kentucky, is set to earn his Clinical Mental Health Counseling Educational Specialist degree this summer. Hill has overcome a bevy of personal challenges in earning his degree; now seven years sober, the single father has carved out his own path at Murray State through his work with Phi Kappa Phi and Chi Sigma Iota, ahead of a full-time therapist position with Emerald Therapy.

Hill said he struggled for years with depression and low self-esteem. In his senior year of high school, he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

“Almost everyone had written me off,” he said. “Bridges were burned, and I only had my mother left.”  

April 17, 2012 is a day Hill won’t ever forget. That was the day he got sober. He said he was inspired to pursue his career path after working with a counselor that helped him stay on the right path for good using the 12 steps program.

“She saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself,” Hill said. “She told me I was a born leader and she supported me in a time when I felt that I had no one. She is no doubt responsible for my career choice.”

He credits his father as a major influence in his life, helping to instill in him the value of hard work and generosity.

“This guy had all the odds stacked against him,” Hill said. “He comes from a low socioeconomic background, has six siblings, and had little to no access to higher education. He is a hard worker and he is kind and selfless. If I could be half the man he is, I would consider that a success.

“Success is not about how much money you make or how big your social circle is. Success is defined by the impact we have on others; being selfless, humble and kind are the things I think are cool these days.”

After making the decision to go to college, Hill said he quickly identified with the Racer community in his time on campus, adding that as a Murray native, he was “born a Racer.” He cited Murray State’s Drs. Justin Brogan, Samir Patel and Marty Dunham as major influences in his educational career.

“Dr. Brogan is laid back, makes you laugh and makes learning fun,” Hill said. “Dr. Patel is so consistent in his teaching. He is the same guy every time you see him; he projects stability and I think that is comforting. Dr. Dunham is an average guy who just so happens to have a lot of letters behind his name; he is helpful, selfless and always makes himself available when you don’t know what is going on in class.”

Hill said one of his favorite campus traditions used to be going to Stewart Stadium to watch football games with his late grandfather, but now he’d have to say it’s bringing his own children to the stadium.

“Nothing beats holding my boys and watching Racer One run the track after a touchdown,” Hill said.

He said his grandfather, Homer Bullard, helped inspire him to work with kids.

“When I was a month sober, he told me I would ‘help lots of kids one day,’” Hill said. “He was right, because I am currently working with about 50 students in the local school systems. There isn’t a single day that I don’t think about him.”

Hill said a lot of his work is with kids going through the same things he did.

“I get an opportunity to say ‘Hey, I get you,’” he said. “I understand the loneliness, the hurt and the rejection. I possess equal parts personal experience and clinical training, which makes me very effective when dealing with that population.”

Hill said there is one major piece of advice he’d offer to incoming students.

“Whatever it is you want to do, go do it,” he said. “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible. All you have is your fire and the place you want to be.”

The May 2019 commencement ceremony will take place May 11 at 9 a.m. in the CFSB Center for graduates of the Bauernfeind College of Business, College of Humanities and Fine Arts and Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology, with a 2 p.m. ceremony planned for graduates of the College of Education and Human Services, Hutson School of Agriculture, School of Nursing and Health Professions and interdisciplinary studies (Associate of General Studies and BIS Degrees). Use #RacerGraduation on social media to share your commencement experience. Additional information about the ceremony and a live stream link are available at murraystate.edu/commencement.

Photo: Jared Hill of Murray, Kentucky, is set to earn his Clinical Mental Health Counseling Educational Specialist degree this summer.

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