Arkansas State University - Newport

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August 2019

#MyASUNstory: Saxton Gilmer

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns. For Saxton Gilmer, that unexpected turn brought him to ASU-Newport. While the road wasn’t easy, Saxton says the Diesel Technology Program has been one of his greatest blessings.

“Growing up, college seemed like something super farfetched because the way college was always understood to me was it was something people only went to if they had money,” Gilmer said. “I never really thought I would have the opportunity to go to school.”

Gilmer said he’s worked multiple jobs since he was in eighth grade. His family owned a construction company, and he hoped to one day take it over.

“My grandpa told me, if you go to college get a business degree that way you can take over the business,” Gilmer said. “I wanted to go to the diesel tech so I could work on our equipment for our business.”

When his high school counselor at Brookland High School began to talk to him about college, he saw it as another time to put in the work.

“I worked really hard to get scholarships,” Gilmer said. “I got a few private ones, and then I got Pell grant and stuff which allowed me to come here.”

With a plan to come to ASU-Newport in place, Gilmer was making more life changes.

“After senior year, I moved beside my grandfather to take care of him and my grandma with the little stuff they needed help with,” Gilmer said.

After his move, life for Gilmer took that unexpected turn.

“One morning, I had worked, I was working at IHop at the time, and I had worked overnight,” Gilmer said. “They woke me up around 11 and said we are about to take your grandpa to the hospital, he’s sick. We need you to come help us get him in the car. He didn’t look well at all. He’d been fighting a cold or what we thought. I got a phone call shortly after saying that I needed to come to the hospital because they are trying to bring him back. I was really confused because for all I knew he had a cold. I drove up to the hospital, and I didn’t make it in time.”

Gilmer said his grandfather’s passing was a pivotal point in his life because his grandfather was the one that helped him get where he was.

“I was at a crossroads,” Gilmer said. “It was either not go to school, continue working or do what I knew he wanted me to do and just work through it and go to school anyways and make something of myself.”

Gilmer decided to go to school. He came to ASU-Newport’s Diesel Technology Program and said the faculty helped him tremendously.

“Jerry and Johnny were so understanding,” Gilmer said. “They are real people. They aren’t just here to get a paycheck. They actually care about the students. I really feel like coming here has been one of my greatest blessings.”

Gilmer said new opportunities have opened up for him since attending ASUN, and he hopes he can encourage others to work for what they want.

“The only thing holding you back is yourself because I’ve always been raise, and I’ve always believed in myself, that you pave your own path,” Gilmer said. “So whether you want to be an astronaut or a diesel mechanic or a nurse…you only have the opportunities you make for yourself.”