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Senior Spotlight: Ben Hays

Ben Hays is a founding student member of Olive Plants. He was enrolled in one of our first classes, Spanish I, taught by his dad in 2012, and has taken multiple courses every year since. Over the years he has contributed to our program as a student, volunteer, member of the student council, archer, and assistant tutor.

ben2After graduation, he will attend LaGrange College as a Vice Presidential Scholar. He intends to major in English and double minor in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) and Asian Studies. Along with covering tuition, fees, and books, his scholarships will cover a May term abroad and a semester-long internship through Seigakuin University in Japan. He aspires to complete an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English and tutor locally and internationally while completing his degrees– with the end goal of teaching English at the university level either in the States or in Japan.

A life-long Japanophile, he is excited about moving forward with his course of study and is thankful for the unique program that LC offers. Although he is careful to say he does not know the mind of God, he can see how the Lord has providentially used many aspects of his life thus far—studying Japanese in homeschool, traveling house to house with his mom as she tutored English-language learners, training in martial arts—to move him in the direction of his chosen major and vocational calling. He has been apprenticing since he was 11!

The area that has him most nervous about the future is “all things social.” There were many nights this past school year that Ben (and his mom) lost sleep weighing his options and praying about the future. “Everyone, including autism experts, had encouraged me to pursue a career in the tech sector. It is an autism-friendly field. Some companies, like Google, even actively recruit people on the spectrum because our brains are hard-wired for jobs that neurotypical people find redundant and boring.”

He explained that he received offers at schools where he could have earned a computer science degree, and the deals were attractive. “However, I kept looking at the English and Asian Studies programs at LC, and computer science became less and less appealing.” As soon as he decided on LC and the English degree, he experienced the peace of God that surpasses understanding—no more sleepless nights. However, he realizes he is going to have learned to navigate the social aspects of college and a people-oriented career and would appreciate the prayers of his friends as he moves into this new phase of life.

ben3His favorite high school memory is when his closest friends surprised him with a “Break a Leg” party. The crew masterfully planned a surprise party to ease his nerves and lift his spirits before he underwent the first of two complex surgeries and a year of rehabilitation and physical therapy. He is thankful he has been surrounded by exceptional friends during his high school years and gives thanks for them and their families.

To the Class of 2019, he offers this advice:

Keep taking the ACT. You have until November to get that score up and

be competitive. Don’t let fear get in your way. Trust the Lord. Try new things

and don’t get stuck in your comfort zone. If you limit yourself, you may miss

something great. If you need help, ask for it. Your senior year may be a lot

like Season 2 of AG (a metaphor Mrs. Dawn’s students will understand all too

well)—many things will be mind-bogglingly hard, seemingly pointless, and

extremely stressful, but if you persevere, Season 3 will make so much sense.

I think that is a metaphor for life, and each stage leads us to the next as God

sanctifies us and works in mysterious ways that are always for our good and

His glory.

ben5Ben is the son of Michael and Dawn Hays of LaGrange, Georgia. They are both thrilled with Ben’s goals and thankful for how God has provided for him.

One of his mom’s favorite moments with him took place during story hour at the library. She reports that when the librarian introduced a story by asking, “What do mommies do?” four-year-old Ben’s hand shot up. She held her breath because he was likely to say anything at that age. His response gave her words to live by, though. “They cook good food and give lots of love.”

ben4His dad’s favorite memory was the day Ben earned his black belt in Tang Soo Do. “Ben had worked many, many hours to perfect moves that were extremely difficult for him because of the over-rotation of his leg bones. He persevered through years of painful training and a difficult examination process to earn the coveted rank. There were 5th degree black belts in the room fighting back the tears as he was promoted. He made us all proud.”

Congratulations, Ben! You have made Olive Plants proud, too. We will be praying for God’s continued blessings for you.