Children are often told they can be anything they want, no matter their background. As they get older, the world tends to teach them otherwise. EKU junior Dakota Himes didn’t let that negativity stop him from pursuing his dreams, and as a result, recently earned the First Colonel Cultural Immersion Scholarship.
With the scholarship, he and nine other first-generation students will stay in Washington D.C. May 12-19, all expenses paid, to study and experience a variety of world cultures.
Growing up, Himes’s family was financially unable to go on vacation trips. So, to Himes, the scholarship is more than just a travel opportunity. “It’s proof that money doesn’t define success.” Like many from Appalachia, the Jackson County native was often stereotyped because of his financial status.
“I come from a poor socioeconomic background, and a lot of my family and people from my hometown have this notion that only bad things happen to people from these backgrounds.”
Deep down, Himes knew there was more to him than his past. While at Eastern, he has taken every opportunity to excel and prove wrong all those who doubted him. Along with serving as a Diversity Scholar, Himes is also a member of the College Democrats, the Alphabet Center and Alpha Phi Omega (a service fraternity), and sings in Concert Choir.
“Experiencing the world through the lens of someone whodidn’t always have what they needed” has shaped who he is today. With a servant’s heart, Himes always strives to help others whenever he can. As part of the requirements for Alpha Phi Omega, for example, Himes participates in at least 20 service hours each semester.
On track to graduate in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Himes plans to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling, a profession that will allow him to continue his legacy of helping others.
Himes is also especially gifted at always seeing the best in others. He noted that he did not have a specific academic role model, but that he is constantly inspired by “so many students and faculty alike who put in an extraordinary amount of effort into their studies and lectures.”
Many of Himes’ professors have noticed similar traits in him. English professor Maggie Frozena said she is continually impressed by his fairness and compassion, qualities she said make him both an excellent student and person.
“Dakota has a point of view and has many positions and ideas that he feels strongly about,” Frozena said, “but he is always willing to listen to others and to validate their point of view.”
Frozena also praised Himes’ work ethic. “I do know a bit about his background and how hard he worked to get to EKU and how hard he continues to work on his studies.”
Though she has only known him a few months, Frozena has noticed Himes’ growth during that time, especially in his confidence. “He continues to find his voice and to speak for himself but also to advocate for others. He not only understands his right to an education and a point of view, but that others have those rights as well.”
Frozena has no doubt Himes is destined for many great things in life.
“His continued activism and his desire to make the world a more fair and kind place is inspiring,” she explained. “He is such a great person, and I really am so happy to see all of his successes!”
–by Yasmin White, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management