When Jeremy Gannon’s stepfather died suddenly, his mother went to work as a bartender, one of several jobs she took in order to provide for her family. Then a high school student, Jeremy stepped up to care for his four younger siblings, the youngest still a baby.
At Williamson, Jeremy would have a community that looked after him, a campus where he could focus on his own dreams while recovering from the devastating loss of his stepfather. The college also offered him a place where he could work hard and excel in academics and wrestling.
Jeremy was four years old when Dave entered his life. He loved Dave as if here were his own father. Remembered for being extremely dedicated to all his children, Dave coached wrestling, baseball, football and “whatever we were playing.”
When Jeremy started at Williamson, he was excited to be part of the Machine Tool Technology Program. He worked hard to get good grades and joined the wrestling team. But he was concerned about his family. The summer before, they moved from Chichester, Pennsylvania to Crofton, Maryland to be with Jeremy’s new stepfather.
He traveled every weekend his freshman year to be with them. Then his mother enrolled in nursing school. “She always wanted to be a nurse, and now she’s getting straight A’s and scholarships.” His mother was making her life-long wish into a reality, and this put Jeremy at ease.
He got to know and came to trust his new stepfather. He believed his family was in good hands. Weekend trips home became less frequent, and he stayed in Pennsylvania for summer internships, working as a millwright at the UPS Factory and Janssen Biotech.
Considering his career options, Jeremy turned to his long-held interest in the military, and in becoming a Navy SEAL. Watching his mother pursue her professional dreams inspired him to do the same.
Williamson emulates the discipline and structure of a military academy, making service a suitable and attractive option for students like Jeremy, who has grown used to the schedule and expectations. Jeremy’s three-year conduct record speaks for itself: zero disciplinary points and one excused absence.
“I always thought the Navy SEALs was something I can never do, but being here at Williamson made me realize that I can do whatever I want.”
A big supporter of Jeremy’s plans to join the Navy, and possibly its elite special forces, is his wrestling coach Joe Silvestri.
“He’s a great citizen, really,” says Coach Silvestri, encouraging Jeremy to pursue military service. “He always shows up on time, stays within the confines of what’s expected of him, follows the rules, and never tries to buck the system.”
Alongside his coaching at Williamson, Silvestri has coached on the national level and this year received a Life-Time Achievement award from the US Wrestling Officials Association (USWOA).
“Jeremy is an almanac of technique,” Silvestri says. But mainly he admires Jeremy for his sportsmanship. “He was never part of any controversy; there were no personal digs between the teammates.”
In his 24 years at Williamson, Coach Silvestri would often have to remind students that they had chosen to come to Williamson. If things got difficult for them, they still had to stick to it, no matter how disgruntled they were. Not Jeremy, though. “He doesn’t know the word, ‘gripe.’”
“Jeremy always stuck to his drive or his motive, ” Silvestri adds. He has the internal motivation to get through the rigorous training and preparation that’s required to be a Navy SEAL.
Jeremy recently graduated and took part in the first ever “Drive-Through Graduation” at Williamson. Like all college campus events, the commencement ceremony was cancelled because of COVID-19. The administration rescheduled it for October; it will take place during Homecoming weekend.
Recognized for his role as a senior mentor to underclassmen, Jeremy received the 2020 R. Bruce Bellerjeau 6W9 Memorial Award for the Machine Shop student who contributed most to underclassmen.
For now, Jeremy is with his family in Maryland where he is helping his younger brothers and sisters with their on-line learning, and playing football with them in the front yard.
Grateful for the chance to be with his family during this time, he is getting ready to start the Navy application process.
“My time being at Williamson made me realize that if you have a dream, go for it, because why not? “
“I have dreams and I plan on making it.”
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