Gold Medal Award Recipient - Jeremy Pearce

September 11, 2014

Jeremy Pearce's Story

Being accepted to SFU was more than an opportunity to pursue higher education: it was my ticket out.

By age sixteen living in my family's home had become unbearable, so I moved out on my own. I began working full-time, while also attending my grade eleven classes. I went to school by day and then rushed to work until midnight. But within months my presence at school was non-existent because of work, yet I was still unable to make ends meet financially. I lived in survival mode for several months. Stressed and tired I thought there must be an easier way to be able to make money and go to school and even have a bit of a social life. I was just naive enough to think there was, and started down a path of misdeeds until...

One August night I was just about to take a shower when I heard a knock at the door. Assuming that it was a friend arriving early, I put my clothes back on and went to the door. When I opened it, no one was there. I poked my head out into the hallway and looked towards the elevator, but saw no one. I turned to look left as I began to head back inside when I saw two men charging at me. I readied myself for a brawl. Any notion of my putting up a fight dissipated instantly, as they pulled a knife and placed the cool blade upon my throat. The men directed me into my apartment and I complied. They continued to assault me as they brought me out to the balcony. One man stayed with me, taking and breaking my phone, while the other ransacked the apartment. After what seemed like an eternity the intruders finally left, leaving me beaten on the locked balcony.

In the following weeks my life was at an all-time low. Doctors diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder to explain my depression and inability to sleep. Days turned to weeks and the pain would not diminish. One night, feeling as though life would never get better, I gave up and swallowed over 30 sleeping pills. I got in my vehicle and drove to a parking lot where my mother and I used to sit and talk when I was a child. Here, I awaited death.

I woke up in the Psychiatric Ward of St. Joseph's Hospital. The police had found me and taken me to the hospital under the Mental Health Act. Doctors had explained to my mother that the amount of pills I had taken would have brought down a horse. I began to wonder why I was given this second chance.

The following year, my life began to change dramatically with the help of a High School football coach as my mentor. With his guidance, I began to apply myself academically and after an additional year in high school I graduated and also received a scholarship offer to play on Simon Fraser University’s Varsity Football team.

During my time at SFU, I have competed as a varsity student football athlete while maintaining one of the team’s highest GPA’s. As a full-time student and athlete, the School of Criminology Forensic Entomology Lab employed me also. I continue to volunteer my time as a Big Brother and a Special Olympics coach. In spring 2013, I founded a Simon Fraser Student Society club called “SFU Team Up” that aims to bridge the divide between athletes and students while also giving back to the community that supports us. Over one year, I have spearheaded many fundraisers that have collected over $19,000 for local charities.

Terry Fox exemplifies the positive change that can arise from adversity. His courage and passion have impacted the lives of countless other individuals, myself included. As Terry did, I hope to use the adversity that I have faced to help others and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Jeremy Pearce

Jeremy Pearce, SFU student and varsity athlete
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