By his early twenties, Shawn Evans, ‘07 had settled into a normal adult life. He got married, bought a house, and started a family. But he was also dangerously overweight and his college career had only just begun.
Evans was able to find a home at Grand Valley and started working in the College of Education Office as a student. After graduating with a degree in Philosophy, Evans made the conscious decision to change his habits. Today, he is 110 pounds lighter, working full-time for the College of Education, and is currently working toward his Master of Education.
“I decided to make some lifestyle changes,” he said. “By integrating physical fitness into my daily activities, choosing healthier dietary options, and seeking competitive and recreational athletic events to participate in, I have developed a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to live healthy and be well.”
Once weighing more than 300 pounds, Evans joked about how even the smallest task would make him sweat. Now his weekly activities include playing softball with the Grand Rapids City League, training for races with colleagues, playing soccer and football with friends, and taking his sons to swim at Jenison High School.
In 2012, he began running for a cause. Evans had already participated in the Gazelle Sports Stache Dash, the Gail Easter Memorial 10K Trail Run, and the Alternatives in Motion 10K. After hearing about the efforts being made for the Grand Valley Fund, he also laced up his shoes for the first Laker for a Lifetime Team at the 2013 River Bank Run.
“While I had planned on running the 10k event at the River Bank Run, I remained unsure of why I wanted to participate in this event,” he said. “I was unsure about participating in an event without a purpose and it felt as though I was doing so merely to be able to say that I did. Then I found the opportunity to participate as part of the Laker for a Lifetime Team and it all seemed to jive.”
Through persistent social networking and the generosity of family and friends, Evans individually raised $320 for the Grand Valley Fund, adding to the more than $9,000 total.
“The entire experience was worthwhile and rewarding,” he said.
It was this same hard work and dedication that got him promoted from student to full-time employee at the College of Education. Evans is currently the Academic Department Coordinator and works closely with the department chair, helps the faculty conduct research, participates in a number of college committees, and supervises student employees. He said the well-rounded education he received at Grand Valley helped him gain perspective about his life, the people around him, and his future.
“My liberal educational experiences have prepared me to think critically and seek solutions to problems – particularly difficult problems where win-win solutions are not immediately apparent,” he said. “And to do both with a sense of empathy toward those with whom I work and those for whom I work.”
With these problem solving skills, Evans built a level of confidence and was able to confront many of the challenges that prevented him from living a happy and healthy life.
“While I still have work to do, I am proud of the work that I have done to get to where I am today.”
Evans is training for a half marathon in October 2013, the 25K River Bank Run in May 2014, and a full marathon in October 2014.
*Photo courtesy of Rusty Warriors Foundation