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Meridian eighth grader Shaun Mayberry learned hardship early-on, so when he says, “Sometimes people fall. So, I try to help them back up,” I can almost feel the weight of his meaning hanging in the air. Shaun spent a year living in Kennett, Missouri, with his father, whom he’d never met. He admits that he didn’t much like that period of his life.

Life's Open Road

Shaun looks up to his grandfather, who has raised him over the past few years. After a year with his father, Shaun’s grandfather went to court and was given custody of Shaun and as a result, Shaun returned to Meridian.


Shaun looks up to his grandfather, sharing that he strives to be like him. When asked what he most admires about his grandfather, Shaun describes his generosity of spirit, sharing that “he helps a lot. When you need something, he’ll do it. He helps others out when they need it.”


Shaun sometimes seems playful and mischievous, teasing that he’s often underestimated and misunderstood, sharing that ‘sometimes people think he’s slow, but he’s really quite bright.’ When discussing school, he struggles to identify any favorite teacher or subject, jumping between his many interests. He shares that some of his favorite teachers are Miss Massey and Mr. Washam. He enjoys science, especially understanding the Earth’s interconnected systems, and PE. He plays basketball and baseball and recently joined the track team as a discus thrower after concluding the shot put wasn’t for him.


He shares that homework can be a struggle, but that his teachers care and go above and beyond to help keep him on track. Sometimes he can get distracted and temporarily lose his path. Still, it’s not an issue of ability as much as an issue of will. Sometimes, chatting with his friends can just be too tempting. Or, as he playfully concludes, “Sometimes I’m a good student, but sometimes I’m a bad student.”


Ultimately, Shaun always finds a way to catch up and succeed despite life’s challenges and distractions. He plans on attending John A. Logan Community College to obtain his Class A CDL license. Shaun plans to become an overthe-road truck driver. While such a career will require him to live most of his life on the road, he hopes to eventually move closer to extended family, sharing that he has several cousins in Alabama and Virginia.


While only a teenager, Shaun’s already experienced many of life’s ups and downs. Soon he’ll take all the twists and turns our highways—and life itself—has to offer. Maybe he’ll end up in Virginia. Or perhaps he’ll end up in Alabama. Or maybe he’ll stay in Southern Illinois and pass along the same lessons his grandfather teaches him through the power and simple beauty of generosity of spirit.


Sometimes every one of us falls. I’d consider myself lucky to one day look up and see the outstretched hand of a truck driver named Shaun as he offers to help me up.

Sometimes people fall. So, I try to help them back up.
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