Role: Early Stagg Graduate of Class of 2016
Sevim enjoys spending most of his free-time with his family.
Family may not be as important to some people, but to me it’s everything. I grew up as the youngest of two brothers and a sister. Being the youngest with significant age differences between my siblings (me and the oldest are 16 years apart, the next youngest is 15 years apart, and the youngest before me is 10 years apart), it may seem surprising that we’re so close. My siblings and I still hang out often. Mostly on weekends we all get together, get dinner and whatnot.
When I’m not at school or work, which is much of my time, I try to spend it with my young nephews and nieces by visiting them every week. I always spend time with family because I think it is the right thing to do. I live by the saying, "friends will come and go, but family sticks with you forever,” and while I do spend time with most of my friends, I always make sure to spend more time with family. Since my nieces and nephews are young, I would like for them to spend time with me so they get to know me as their uncle. I want them to know that I'm there for them and that they can come to me if they need anything. Growing up being so close to my family makes me sort of carry that tradition.
The group of friends I had growing up were definitely like family since I would pretty much spend the entire day with them during the summer. A memory that never seems to fade would be going outside at seven o’clock a.m. and not coming into the house until eight thirty p.m. because we would be having such a great time playing kickball or basketball. I still have close bonds with some of these friends besides one of them who passed away a couple years ago. He had an undetected heart condition from what I’ve been told. He was 14. It was hard to deal with, but you keep the memories that help you get through it. [His passing] reiterated my belief of living each day like it’s your last cause you never know if you’ll still be here tomorrow.
My most memorable moment in life so far was probably when my mom was diagnosed with cancer in the seventh grade. I remember the day clearly. She had a cold for a few weeks that would not go away so she went to the doctor to see what was going on. When she came home, she originally told me she had arthritis since she had bone aches at the time. After a couple of days, I found myself walking upstairs to find her and my aunts all sitting on the couch crying together so I knew something was not right. Later during the day, I went upstairs into my mom’s room to find her lying in bed along with my brother and dad sitting on the floor. Right when I walked into the room my mom just started crying. Suspecting something had been going on for the last week, I asked them to tell me what was wrong and she said, “I’m sick.” I turned to her asking with what and she replied, “Cancer.” I was heartbroken and stunned- my mom was always so strong. To hear something like that about her, still being so young at forty-nine years old, was just shocking. Lying on bed together, my mom and I wept for a good fifteen minutes or so. She eventually explained it wasn’t life threatening at the moment since that it was caught very early on so I calmed down a little bit. Still shocked by the news, I couldn’t sleep that night at all.
I’ve never gone through something so difficult in my life. It made me sad and scared because when you hear the word, "cancer," you automatically assume death. It completely worried the hell out of me. I always tried to help my mother stay positive and made sure she did not worry, which inevitably helped her throughout her entire recovery time.
Besides getting a new perspective at life being short, [my mother’s sickness] made me realize that you shouldn't take anything in life for granted - every day is of some worth just by existing. The thought of being without my mom made me appreciate her a hundred times more. Not that I didn’t appreciate her to begin with, but when someone gets sick, we as humans tend to act differently. Once she got sick, I spent lots more time with her and helped her out a lot more than I would before. I knew she needed the help and I thought I owed her for all she had done for me.
We also got much closer [as a family.] None of us argued with each other for the longest time. My mom and I would sometimes get into arguments when I was younger, but after she got sick we never really argued. I think we can all agree that there isn’t the perfect family, but I think my mom’s sickness made us act like we were perfect even though we were in a situation that nobody should ever have to deal with. It definitely gave us more appreciation for my mom for all she had done for us over the years.
It also made me realize how important it is to have a good work ethic. Even though my mom has always been a stay-at-home mom, she always does so much work around the house. You could say she did more than what the "average Joe" or "average Josephine," in her case, would do. She would maintain her garden, landscape around the house, cook, clean, etc. When she first came to the U.S. [from Macedonia], she knew no English and came with nothing. To see everything that she and my dad have accomplished, like my dad working 70-80 hours a week in restaurants, during their lifetimes is beyond amazing. I think it just makes me realize how hard you have to work in life to get these "luxuries" we all take for granted.
I currently work at The Patio Restaurant in Bridgeview. I’m coming up on my second year. My job title is crew member; I work as a floor member and cashier. I also make sure I provide each customer with a memorable experience with my excellent customer service skills. So far I’ve had multiple experiences working there. One experience I’ve had that I’m going to end up remembering until the day I die is the first time I ever got yelled at by a customer, which happened to be my first day on the job. The poor lady’s hamburger was messed up. She ordered the barbecue pretzel bacon and I just brought her a regular hamburger. She was already angry from the moment she walked in the door. I didn’t know what was going on and I thought “Oh, maybe there’s something personal going on with her,” so I kept myself under control. I think that made me realize not everybody is going to be an extremely nice person to you. I have customers all the time coming in and they may have a little bit of an attitude, but I always try to calm them down. I try to share a joke sometimes that will either put them in a better mood or make them twice as angry because they didn’t think I was funny. Although it’s extremely rare, as I like to believe I’m a funny guy.
I think The Patio has impacted my views on work ethic, too. I get to work and meet with so many different people from different backgrounds. It definitely made me realize the value and what it takes to earn money. I have been lucky enough to work with some great people. I’ve gotten very close to my co-workers and managers these past two years and I think it helps you work harder when you have supportive people who notice your hard work. Whenever they turn to me and say, “Great job Sevim,” I think I try to work twice as hard [compared to] other workers who say, “Ok they noticed, now time to relax.” It makes it more of an [enjoyable] experience rather than a job.
I think I’ll be able to balance work and college. If I end up commuting to college then I would stay at The Patio because I do enjoy my job. If I were to live on campus, a lot of the schools are not necessarily within close distance to the location, so I would either have to transfer locations or find different opportunities working on campus. It could go either way. I think it would be nice if I worked at The Patio and end up commuting.
I’m definitely excited for college. I can’t wait to start classes, but I mostly can’t wait for these next years to finish so I can actually get involved with doing what I want. I have not picked a college yet as I’m still debating between multiple different schools. I have pretty much been accepted to all the schools I’ve applied to. For most people it’s a good thing, but not for me. It’s making me crazy trying to decide which school to attend.
I have decided to major in English and history. If possible, I’d like to see if I can do a minor in Spanish, too. What influenced me to pick both subjects was having great teachers in those subject areas like Mr. Garbrecht for AP US History or Mr. Roditis in American Literature and College Prep. Also, I really like Spanish class as I had great teachers like Mrs. Graham, Mrs. Reedy, and Mrs. Lyons. Spanish is one of those classes where there is so much you can do. I think I would be a more effective teacher with English and history because I can use different events to not only teach the content, but make connections to our own lives. History for sure because if one event turned out differently, would everything else still be the same? If I taught history I have a plan that I would assign an alternative history project where students change the outcome of one historical event and see if other events would be the same. I would make them do that with their own personal lives, too. Making connections to your own life in history is very important and that is something I would like to accomplish as a teacher. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a teacher. The way teachers have helped me out at Stagg High School has personally impacted me greatly. They not only care about your education or getting the curriculum done. They care for you as a person.
If I were to give some advice to my younger self, it would be to not wish the time away. I can’t believe there’s five days left of my senior year of high school. Everything’s starting to sink in and it feels that time has flown extremely fast which is both a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because I’m gonna miss the experience of being “youthful” one could say, but I’m happy with my decision. The time I am taking right now after graduation is mostly dedicated to working during the week. The Patio is very lucky, or nervous, to be stuck with me so much now! I’m also using this time to FINALLY pick a college and get ready for school in the fall; including some much deserved vacationing. I'm going to Florida in January, and maybe some other places down the road, but no plans yet. There is still some parts of me that say, “Yeah you should have done this,” but there’s a greater part that says there’s so much more to accomplish with the extra time. So just don’t wish the time away.
--Interviewed By: Gaby Rodriguez