What was supposed to be a year filled with opportunity and progress has felt like anything but for those in our nation and across the globe. Stuck inside while the world seemingly falls apart outside our windows has left many feeling isolated. Lacking the knowledge of where to turn and with so much going wrong, despair is around the corner for those who cannot cope with the conditions that face us all in this new normal. However, these challenges are not new to our society, nor are they beyond our capabilities to deal with. When troubles arose in the past, brave men and women stepped up and carried others to safety and encouraged others to press on. As we remember what Og Mandino remarked, “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” No matter how small or large difficulties may appear, it is the duty of everyday men and women to muster up the courage to carry on. In order to have the courage to step out into our world and take on its challenges, people must first face uncertainty and the unknown. The steps to do so start when someone is very young and develop through time. This summer, I am taking further steps into becoming a man who can rise amidst difficulties in life. From the end of May through July carrying into August, I have embarked on a journey to better myself in my chosen field. Interning with Grit University, I have dedicated my summer to learning the important steps of creating, managing, and running a business. Along with my fellow Intern Colby Harris, and mentor, Brian Harbin, we have just hit the halfway mark through the summer, and I could not be more pleased about my progress and outlook for the future. My name is Dylan Tedder, and I just finished my second year at Valdosta State University. While in college, I have set up personal goals to accomplish during my tenure. Amongst my many goals, using my summers to better myself and set myself for success upon graduate, is near top of my list. When the chance to do so with Mr. Harbin came along, I was extremely interested and grateful for the opportunity. As I come to the second half of this experience, I am blown away by the progress I have seen in myself. After lengthy discussions and going through several possibilities, we decided to start “Grit Camp.” Our camp entails a week long experience for kids to participate in sporting activities, while also learning what is means to have grit, challenge themselves, and develop their character. Not only has progress grown in the campers, but in myself also. Waking up in the darkness of the early morning and working out everyday has helped me improve my physical health and improve mental toughness. Running the camp everyday has taught me resilience that I have not known before. Reading books about bettering myself along with journaling about my day to day activities have also improved my personal growth. All the different elements of this internship have helped me achieve more than the typical college student’s summer, and I still have a month left. My new normal this summer has not been easy, and has had it’s struggles that I have had to adapt to and overcome. Much like our world today, men and women have been given a new normal to deal with, and have had to overcome it. On a smaller scale, my summer has taught me how to respond and conquer the obstacles set forth. I look forward to the second half and building upon the success so far. Thankfully, I have developed a strong work ethic in my twenty years of life, which is crucial in times like these. I hope the second half of my summer proves to be helpful for my development, and that the second half of this year proves easier for hard working individuals. Additional info about Dylan: Dylan grew up in the community that we are running the camp this summer. Last week, he was able to be a camp counselor for his younger brother and his brother's friends. It was a great opportunity to have a tremendous impact on those young men, and Dylan did just that! Pictured below: Dylan at Valdosta State where he is a rising Junior. Second picture is from Week 1 of camp where we had the Jaguars head coach Doug Marone come and speak to the kids. Dylan sent a letter this week to Tim Tebow to see if he can speak this summer. We will keep you posted!