Life-changers help students fulfill their dreamsNov 14, 2022 11:35AM ● By Becky Ginos
Honoree Barbara Smith accepts the President's Award at the Life-Changer Luncheon held at Davis Technical College. Smith and others were honored for their help in changing students’ lives. Courtesy photo
KAYSVILLE—Shane Goodbar was struggling with addiction and mixed up in crime. Emaly Merchan had come to the United States from Columbia and didn’t know English. Although they have very different backgrounds both individuals have had their lives changed by people who have taken them under their wing. Davis Technical College (DTC) Foundation honored some of these outstanding individuals at a Life-Changer Luncheon on Oct. 20.
“I was looking at 15 to life,” said Goodbar. “I started at the Red Barn Academy. It’s a two-year program for addiction and criminals, overall people making bad decisions. I’ve learned to love myself and be proud of who I am. I don’t need others' validation. I know my value now.”
Goodbar is now the general manager of Sticky Bird, a restaurant run by Red Barn. “The judge told me he would stay my sentence and gave me the opportunity to go to Red Barn. If I keep up my end of the bargain and complete the program it goes away and I’m no longer on parole.”
The Red Barn program isn’t easy, he said. “Honestly I’ll tell you one night almost kept me from staying at Red Barn. Everybody has a day when they say ‘it’s too hard, they don’t know me.’ You have to do hard things and be uncomfortable and learn to manage your emotions. I was doubting myself and didn’t know how I’d get through the rest of my life.”
Goodbar said he was broken. “I realized I had to change my life to become the best person I could be. I’m motivated by my (Red Barn) brothers and Mike Haws who runs the program. Men who are further in the program. Guys like me who have made bad choices, broken the law, just knuckleheads. They’ve found a different life. You can see a peacefulness behind their eyes. I did everything I could to do what they were doing.”
DTC has a relationship with the academy and provides programs for men there. “It gave me not only a chance to further my education but also reach my dreams,” he said. “Marcie Valdez (DTC Foundation Director) and the teachers have done so much there to continue to help me better myself. It has just been amazing.”
Goodbar is in the welding program there. “Welding is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I’ll always be a part of Red Barn but one day I want to own my own shop. Ever since I was a kid in a sandbox I’ve wanted my own shop.”
Emaly Merchan is almost finished with the dental assisting program at DTC. “When I got here two years ago from Columbia I could only speak Spanish,” she said. “The language was a big barrier. It was so hard.”
Merchan said she was introduced to DTC when her father had a pain in his mouth and went to Pantry Smiles to get dental care. Pantry Smiles is a program to give dental care to those who cannot afford it. Students in the dental assisting program at DTC work at the clinic with volunteer dentists.
“I went with my dad and sister,” she said. “My sister talked to one of the teachers and she said ‘why don’t you come here?’ I didn’t know anything about English but we decided to go together to DTC.”
Merchan said she studied a lot. “I was scared at first but once you get to DTC they’re super nice even if you’re different. My teachers helped me a lot to learn everything.”
Cathy Turnbow (lead dental assistant instructor) was the best one, she said. “She helped me all the time. She made me feel like I could do something. If she saw that I was struggling with something she’d give me other resources to improve my language.”
Cathy would always be there for everyone, said Merchan. “If you had any questions she’d answer them for you. My sister and I love Cathy and we’re grateful for her efforts.”
Merchan is doing an internship with a local dentist. “Everything they ask I already know because I learned it at DTC. I have everything I need for my career. I’m super grateful for DTC. It's changed my life. It’s been a dream to come here.” λ