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Before being thrown into the media world at 17-years-old, and now having fallen in love with it, I had zero intention of pursuing anything close to what I am doing today. I hated speaking– especially public speaking. That is, until the Lord took away my ability to talk. In early 2023, my senior year of high school, God gave me a story to tell. I spent nine days in the hospital, six days of which I was unconscious. My brain was swollen and inflamed. I was diagnosed with Viral Encephalitis.

On that cold, January night I woke up in the hospital, I was a shell of my typical self. I could not talk. I could barely write. I remember there was one thought on my mind, though: where is my Bible? Eventually, I stumbled across the room and found it. I sat back down and flipped open to a random page. I could not read the words on the page. My brain was fried. In the moment, I cried out the only two words I could find that strength to mutter: “I Surrender.”

From then on, my recovery journey began on an exponential track. I was released from the hospital less than two days later. Being unconscious, I was hopeless. Doctors didn’t have answers. But, my family had faith. They prayed and asked others to join them. At a time when I could not pray for myself, He provided people to intercede to Him on my behalf. And boy, did He intercede. I credit this as my “But, God” moment in reflection.

Little did I know this was just the beginning. I was released from the hospital on a Friday. My final semester of high school began on the following Monday. Anyone who knows me knows I am daringly tenacious. I didn’t want to give up. I was set on jumping right back into the wing of things. So I did exactly that.

In that semester I was tasked with the most challenging assignment of my high school career: a 20 page research paper & a 30 minute presentation. Practically, the class was a college capstone but for high schoolers. Everyone famously dreads the project from freshman year onward. But, everyone is required to take it to graduate.

I had no clue where to even begin. Thankfully though, my teachers were extremely gracious with me considering my circumstances. A month into class, I had nothing. Classmates had already written nearly half of the paper. I did not even have the thesis statement– one sentence– completed. Originally, I had chosen declining birth rates as my topic. My brain could not process my vision for it.

Eventually, I chose a new topic. I wanted to choose something “easier,” so I could “just get it done” considering where I was just a few weeks prior. I ended up deciding to try to prove the essentiality of freedom of speech– not knowing how many components there were. I put my head down, and got to work trying to focus.

I wrote, wrote some more, and interviewed a few expert attorneys on the subject. At the culmination of the paper, I had met the 20 page requirement. I even exceeded it. Significantly too. Instead of simply 20 pages, I wrote 70 pages.

As I was riding home from school one of the next days, I read to my mom a portion of my paper. I’ll never forget what she told me afterwards. Once we were pulling into the driveway, she said, “I can see some books in your future.” She may have not been the first person to tell me this, but it certainly stuck with me like never before. It struck me internally. At that moment, I told myself “this is going to be my first book.”

My goal soon developed. I wanted to become “an author before an adult– to publish my first book before I turned 18.” This was April 2023. I knew nothing except I only had less than three months until the end of June. I was set on meeting my goal.

I spent days researching the publishing process. I explored my options. I created a website (an older version of the one you’re one right now). I designed a book cover. I even managed to get a call with Harper Collins. When I put it altogether, America, Don’t Give Up was born.​​

The next day at school, I began sharing my goal– starting with my teacher & classmates. They did not believe me– and, realistically, why should they? Heck, I don’t know if I even believed I could actually do it. I was just a man on a mission. I started dreaming out loud even more. I started saying, “I’m gonna get my book on Fox News in June.” As for this one, I legitimately had no idea how to pull it off. I was merely a 17-year-old high schooler aiming for the stars. It eventually became a light-hearted joke at my school. Even to the point a friend signed my senior yearbook by inscribing “Fox News, he’s coming for you” next to their name. I laughed it off void of humility.

Fast forward to late June. I was scrambling to finalize everything I need within the next week. This was my last week to pull it off. I remember where I was vividly. I was at my desk in my room. In between tasks on my computer, I looked down at my phone to see a message pop up. It just so happened to be a Fox News producer reaching out. She asked me if I was available to come on the next morning to talk about Gen Z something. I was obliged to accept the invite. But, deep down, I was scared to death. Granted, up to this point, I had not asked to go on. I had not hired a PR firm to pitch me. I had no formal media training. I had not even communicated with an employee at a news outlet yet. I was merely a recent high school graduate whom they chose for some apparent reason.

The next morning came especially quick. My alarm went off bright and early– at 4:00am. I was set to go live at 5:30am. As I was getting ready, my nerves kicked in and overcame my adrenaline. Before I knew it, my phone started ringing. It was Fox News calling. Every second felt like 5 minutes. I sat there at my desk in the virtual green room just waiting– waiting to go live.

Then the producer chimed in, “Standby. 30 seconds.” I’m pretty sure my heart rate at least doubled if not tripled in that very moment. I had jotted down a few quick points on a sticky note and stuck it to my computer screen. While trying not to look at my notes, when asked a question, my eyes were fixated on them. I stumbled through my points. I tried my best to string together a coherent, logical answer to question number two the best I could. Before I knew it, I was taking a deep breath. It was over. The five minute hit flew by! I had made my debut on national tv at just 17-years-old. And off to work I was. That day, I fell in love with beginning my day like this.

The day had finally come. It was June 29th, 2023, the day before my 18th birthday. Less than 24 hours now remained. As soon as I got off of work I immediately rushed to my truck. I knew what I had to do. There were only a few minor changes to make and I could finally do it. Now nearing 5:00pm, I received all the approvals I needed, and only one thing remained: hitting the little button that said, “publish.” To say my emotions were mixed would have been an understatement. I was excited. I was anxious. I was nervous. But the second I hit “publish” I was beyond relieved. I had done it. My months & months of tumultuous work had come to fruition. I met my goal. With just six hours to spare, I finally became “an author before an adult.”

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