My life was never perfect. I went through some obstacles that would normally scar a child. I experienced losses in my family that pushed me into a dark place. I was lost, at many points of my life. But I didn’t stop searching. I searched for the meaning of life, the purpose of being, and the direction of future.
1 | Childhood
I never really got to settle in one place for my childhood. I moved 10 to 15 times between Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. I would get passed off between my parents or my grandparents. My parents were not together, and I didn’t have much of a relationship with my mom.
Moving around made it harder for me to make friends. For a while, my only friends were my family. My younger brother Aaron and I were especially close. As kids, he was my only living brother related to me by blood. My other little brother Eric had passed away from cancer when he was about two. I was too young to really remember him. I also have three other step or half siblings from my father and his new wife. With my mother not around, I had to mature a lot faster. I filled the shoes of taking care of my younger siblings when my dad was busy.
2 | Dear grandfather
Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He was a big role model for me. It was from him that I learned to become a man. He worked hard all of his life and made sure everyone was well fed and happy. Working hard also meant that he lived a stressful life. He also liked to drink and smoke a lot. These all led to his early death.
In 2010, my dear grandfather passed away. He was only in his 50s or 60s when he died. I was still in high school then. When I got the news, it felt like the walls were closing on me. I was incredibly close to him and to hear that he was no longer alive hurt. I loved him deeply.
I was a bitter person in high school. I didn’t care much about anything. I was upset a lot and felt lonely like I didn’t have any friends. I was depressed. When I graduated high school, I didn’t know where I wanted my life to go. I had no plan and no sense of direction. I was at a dead point in my life where I was just working to pass the time. I worked three jobs. Working filled up most of my free time, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything useful.
But the more I reflected on my grandfather’s death, the more I realized that I needed to make a change. I saw that by working just to kill the time, I wasn’t living to my full potential. I wasn’t even living a life. The cause of my grandpa’s death made me realize just how badly stress can affect one’s body. I didn’t want to die an early death due to stress, so I stopped stressing out about little things. I started to appreciate what I had more.
3 | Life in the military
I began searching for a way to make my grandpa proud. He was in the military, so in his honor, I also joined when I was old enough. In the time I spent coping with his death, I realized the best way to honor him was to follow in his footsteps. I thought joining military would make me feel closer to him, so I enlisted. I was stationed in South Korea for two and a half years, between 2011 and 2014.
Military life was compelling. I saw a part of the world that would never escape my mind. Being exposed to different cultures was a big eye-opener for me. I had to get accustomed to a brand-new lifestyle. Trying to be comfortable in an uncomfortable environment was tough, but it was something I had to do. My days in the military had its ups and downs. The days were long, but I handled them fine. I wasn’t very interested in the daily tasks, so I would go and explore the country whenever I could.
I loved seeing the country, but the military life wasn’t a great fit for me. I had an opportunity to be a sergeant, but I decided to leave instead. I didn’t like the gaps in authority, and I wasn’t too happy there. I noticed that many of the higher ranked, respected soldiers were the ones that had gone to college to get their degrees. So, I decided that this was the next step I should take.
4 | Direction found me
I received an honorable discharge from the military. They offered to pay for my education, so I left for school. I enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. I didn’t like high school because I didn’t have a say in what I was learning. In college, I could decide what I wanted to learn about, and I was excited. I got an associate’s degree in IT, and then went on to pursue my Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity.
It took working three jobs and spending a few years in the military for me to realize my passion for Cybersecurity. I’ve always been interested in computers though. When I was 13, I loved playing around on my grandpa’s computer to try to understand why certain files went where they did. I would also tear apart PlayStation systems as a teenager to build new, better ones. I decided that going back to school for something related to computer science would keep me motivated to do well. Cybersecurity was a perfect fit! I finally felt that my life had a better purpose now.
5 | Another loss
In March of 2017, my brother Aaron got into a car accident. Late one snowy night, he was in Columbus, Ohio. He and his girlfriend hit a guardrail and spun out. A semi-truck ran into them. His girlfriend survived, but Aaron did not. His death shattered me. It made me doubt the meaning of life again. Aaron was my best friend. I felt hopeless. Why did he have to die? Why couldn’t it have been me? He had so much more going for him. I questioned if joining the military was worth losing the few good years I could have had spent with my brother before he died. Though the more I had these thoughts, the more I realized that Aaron wouldn’t want me to think that way. I picked myself back up and tried to start living in honor of him.
6 | Moving on
I lost my best friend and my role model, but I made the choice to not let their deaths consume me anymore. I decided to look toward the future with positivity instead of grief. If they’re looking down on me, I hope they are proud. Their deaths pushed me to find some direction in my life. I was tired of going through life’s motions without really moving. I finally feel like I’m moving forward. I will graduate from UC in 2019, and I plan to make a wonderful life in honor of them.
-This is the story of Kevin Turner-
Kevin is currently enrolled at the University of Cincinnati studying Cybersecurity. With a life where he was constantly moving, Kevin had a hard time finding what direction he wanted to go after high school. The unfortunate death of his grandpa and brother pushed him to pursue a career in the army before deciding to further his education despite his old hatred of school. Kevin loves computers and describes himself as a nerd. As the eldest son, he works to give to his younger siblings what he did not have as a child, like advanced computers and game stations. He also enjoys breakdancing and collecting comic books.
This story first touched our hearts on October 31, 2017.