by Bill Pickett

Joining me today on Homegrown in the Heart is my son Grant Pickett, following after his siblings Jack and Maddie. We discuss his own unique history of overcoming challenges to pursue his goals.

In this episode, we will cover Grant’s journey so far:

  • Growing up in the Yakima Valley
  • Overcoming COVID-19 challenges during high school
  • Overcoming additional setbacks with his military application
  • Transitioning to college at the University of Washington
  • Looking forward to Gonzaga University School of Law

Yakima Valley Bred

Grant was the first of the Pickett children to be born and raised in the Yakima Valley. He recalls his childhood as the image of a perfect summer day. It’s early evening, the wind is blowing out back, and the family is preparing for a barbeque. Grant and I agree that summer is a time of enchantment here in Yakima.

Grant began his education at Riverside Christian, continuing through the third grade. After that, our family moved to Hollywood for awhile in pursuit of acting. Grant looks back on this as a majorly positive experience. He feels like he wouldn’t be the same person he is today without it.

During this time, Grant was homeschooled by his mom. I served as the administrative staff – the principal, the superintendent, and so forth. Those were difficult times, because Grant and his siblings were a handful! So I’d like to express my appreciation to all the teachers and educators in the heart of Washington who do good work that serves hundreds, if not thousands, of students.

Our family eventually landed back home in Yakima. Grant enrolled at West Valley, first as a Wolf at the middle school, then a Panther at the junior high, before becoming a high school Ram. Just as for all other 2020 seniors, COVID-19 created a mass disruption during his graduation year.

Overcoming COVID-19 Chaos

Grant recalls the COVID-19 disruption as a particularly challenging time, on top of the stress that graduation naturally entails.

You’re about to leave – high school, your friends, you’re gonna move off to college to some new place. That’s a massive change in your life that brings on a lot of anxiety. And then you had everything else going on in the world, adding on top of that…it was stressful. And it was hard. But I think we made it through.

Grant Pickett

Though it was a time of upheaval, Grant can see that he grew in resiliency and in his appreciation for the most vital things in life, especially his family. Being locked in with them through the pandemic emphasized their importance to him. Grant does regret that he was unable to have a high school graduation ceremony, and hopes he will be able to experience one at college.

Overcoming Military Setbacks

After high school, Grant’s heart was set on joining the United States military. His dream was to attend West Point, and he gave his all to overcoming the rigorous preparations that were necessary to make it to the final steps of the process.

I felt like I was on the one-yard line, about to get the handoff, just go in and score and win the game.

Grant Pickett

Unfortunately, Grant was disqualified due to a lifelong allergy to tree nuts. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but Grant knows that God has other plans for him. He leaned on his family, who kept reminding him that this was just a bump in the road, one that he would make it over. Grant used that image as an internal mantra, determined to stick things through until the door had completely closed – “It’s just a speed bump, you’re not supposed to stop for the speed bumps!”

Even his eventual disqualification has only been a bump in the road. Overcoming his disappointment, Grant has since started on a medical waiver and undergone allergen testing to find out that his allergy is not as severe as once thought. He hopes to enter the JAD corps in the Marines in the future.

Transitioning to College

While continuing to entertain hope for a military placement, Grant applied to several colleges and ultimately became a Husky at the University of Washington in their Foster School of Business. He credits his mother and I for the support we gave him, saying the pursuit of higher education was instilled in him at a very young age. There was no doubt in his mind that he could do it.

Grant says that the first year of college was an interesting transition, especially as classes were still online due to the pandemic. He had moved into his fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi and would Zoom into his classes from the library, or sometimes from bed. He found college classes to be quite different from high school ones. Being around new people and places prompted him to consider who he was and what his goals truly were. Through navigating these transitions, he found an amazing community that he treasures and that he looks forward to being in relation with for the rest of his life.

Speaking as a parent, this is a dream come true to hear. It’s part of what makes the world function, having your children go out into the world and experience life and deep friendships. A pandemic can certainly make those relationships a challenge, whether that pandemic is a virus, or the pandemic of divisiveness, or a pandemic of anger, but it never makes things impossible.

Grant’s generation is poised to change the world in positive ways, and it’s not because they’ve been blessed with abundance and easy lives – in fact, just the opposite. They’ve actually been blessed with the overcoming of challenges. I know this from observing Grant’s own life: the attempts, the failures, and the getting back up again. This perseverance is what Gen Z brings to the table.

What’s Next

Grant’s college graduation is fast approaching. He’ll be getting a dual degree in business administration and Spanish, then following in his father’s and brother Jack’s footsteps to pursue law in the fall. He’s looking forward to experiencing a change of scenery at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane.

Grant thinks that he will wait to take the bar exam until after he graduates law school, because he wants to take the time to get it right the first time. He understands all too well the difficulty in overcoming the public’s perception that lawyers today are scumbags, but that does not deter him. Rather, I am humbled that he looks to my own career as a positive example of the law at work. He feels that this is what he’s meant to do with his life as well.

Grant has not yet decided what kind of law he will be pursuing. He has an interest in criminal law and the prosecution involved in that. He finds it highly motivating to think of defending people who have been the victims of terrible crimes. On the other hand, he feels that his business degree from UW sets him up well for the pursuit of corporate law. He wonders if he can find the same sense of fulfillment in helping clients set up contracts and make acquisitions. Only time will tell.

A Word of Encouragement

As Grant prepares to graduate from college and move onto that next season of life, I asked him what encouragement he has to share with others who are also going through transitions, whether that’s overcoming the challenges of entering high school or college themselves, or experiencing another shift altogether. Grant imagines himself speaking to the younger guys joining his fraternity.

He would tell them to hang out with the people close to them, reminding them that the time they have together feels long, but it will go by just like that. Grant can’t believe his commencement is in a few short weeks, and then his friends will move away bit by bit over the summer, a process that he dreads.

But Grant is telling himself to stay present, to enjoy the moment. And that’s his hope for our readers as well, that you would cherish the moments you have and take advantage of as many fun things as you can, before you find yourself somewhere new all over again. Grant thinks that college specifically is an amazing experience, but he doesn’t believe that college is the best four years of your life. He doesn’t want that to be the case for himself – he wants each new year to be an even better year, overcoming the one before it, and he feels like everyone should hope for that.

In Closing

With that, I think the call to action today is to embrace the moment. Whatever season of life you’re in–if it’s college, if it’s work, if it’s high school, if it’s graduation–embrace the moment, be present, and look forward with anticipation and excitement to the future. Just don’t look so far into the future that you miss what’s happening now.

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