Jamie Hart ’05: A Vision of Grace and Adversity

What kind of person goes to Urbana University?

It’s a question that gets asked fairly often by people looking for the right university to attend, and it’s not an easy question to answer.  After all, how do you accurately describe people who are determined,   driven, and eager to start their lives with a solid education and experiences that will help mold them into upstanding adults – both in and out of the professional world?  For anyone who has ever found themselves searching for the right words to answer inquiring minds, there are two words that can sum up just what kind of student goes to Urbana University: Jamie Hart ‘05.

Jamie graduated from Urbana University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in history.  He was a commuter student who mainly spent his time on campus for classes and occasional work in the Library; but not being a “traditional” college student didn’t prevent him from forming bonds with other students or faculty members.  In fact, Jamie enjoys strong friendships with former classmates like Julia (Daulton) Monroe ‘07 and Lauren Barrera ‘07 as well as with [former] professors Dr. Steve Cooley and Dr. Julieanne Phillips to this day.

“As you get older, the friendships you retain are more valuable to you,” Jamie says. “When you’re younger you have friends, friends, friends; I find that the older we get the number of friends dwindle but the importance of the friendships we maintain, and their substance, is greater.”

Jamie also maintains a bond with his Alma Mater.  He returns to UU for Homecoming and at other times throughout the year to – in his words – “just walk around”.  And perhaps he returns to reminisce about simpler times.

Two years ago – on December 14, 2010 – Jamie’s life forever and irrevocably changed when his ex-fiancée approached him at his place of employment, shot him, and left him for dead.

Jamie Hart (right) pictured with his sister and long-time supporter Jessica (left).

Now this is the point where, normally, moment-by-moment details are given of what happened and the immediate aftermath – but Jamie’s story begins after all of that.  It begins after trials and plea deals, after losing his left eye and seven reconstructive surgeries.  Jamie’s real story, and testament to the kind of person that calls Urbana University home, begins with recovery.

“At the end of the day there are only two routes: you can either quit or go forward,” he says with conviction.  “There is no gray area, and if you go forward there’s no wishy-washy about it: you’re totally committed.”

“I’m still recovering – as well as I look, I’m still in recovery mode.  I make it a point to talk to [my sister] and my friends as much, or more often, than I did before.  But as far as new relationships go, I am more guarded and reserved than I was.  It’s unfortunate because, you know, there’s always going to be some kind of wall I’ve built up now.  There was someone I cared for, was engaged to, and the betrayal was very reminiscent to when Caesar turned and saw Brutus there.  I guess that’s silly to say, but you know when someone so close to you betrays you and then wants to end your life … it’s hard to put to words.”

Despite Jamie’s admitted and understandable lack of trust in others, it’s relationships like those he formed at Urbana University that helped him face some of the harder times in his recovery.  The help and well-wishes he received initially, and since, has helped him gain new perspective.

“So many people supported me,” he remembers. “I’m more humble now than I’ve ever been.

“I’m more accepting of other people because I obviously haven’t gone through their life journey and their path.  I try not to worry about small things, whatsoever, now. There’s no reason to get upset about the things that, in the grand scheme, just don’t matter.”

Still, when people are gearing up to celebrate Christmas Jamie finds himself in a different place.

“Growing up, Christmas was my favorite time of year.  It was a time for joy and celebration; a time to put up the tree, drink hot chocolate, and build snowmen.  It was magical.  It’s not magical to me now and, I guess, that’s kind of sobering.  Everyone looks forward to Christmas and the closer we get, the closer my anniversary date is.

“I hope to be able to get to a place where this time of year is a time of celebration again.”

 And just two short years after everything changed so dramatically for him, Jamie is beginning to find things to celebrate.  He has discovered a love for marathon running and has already participated in a few 5Ks where the entry fees went towards worthy, local nonprofit causes.  He is currently working with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence to set up a charity 5K in the spring of 2013.  He has received the initial approval and is now working to get backing and support to make it happen.

“Now that I’m healthy enough, I’m starting the process of getting involved,” he says.  “As strange as it sounds, I don’t know if I would necessarily take back what happened to me.  I can certainly see where some people would crumble.  I’ve never had any illusions about what happened to me, and there were times where every single day was a struggle.

“This journey, as hard as it’s been, has given me a greater appreciation for myself and has allowed me to look at the world a little bit differently.  [When something like this happens] you learn so much about what you can and can’t do; and you learn to push yourself in a way that most other people will never get to experience.

“I’m happier.”

So the next time someone asks, “What kind of person do you find at Urbana University?” let them know that they will find the kind of person who, in the midst of a devastating situation, will emerge with the compassion and determination to not only overcome hardship, but find a way to help others to do the same.

Let them know that they will find the inspirational kind of person at Urbana University.

This alumni spotlight was written by Jennifer Kirkham ’09.  Jennifer is a freelance writer and blogger with experience as an editorial journalist.  She is currently working as an Enrollment Office Assistant at Urbana University and lives in Urbana with her husband and their three children.  She can be reached at jkirkham1982@hotmail.com.

 

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