HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - An inspiring young man is this week’s Student Spotlight.
Hartsville High School senior Kerlyn Mondesir is the only junior firefighter at his high school and also has a very fascinating interest for politics.
There’s no doubt Kerlyn has a passion for serving his community, and it can be seen through the way he talks about his year of service that recently won him the Hartsville Junior Firefighter of the year.
“I won by showing great love for the fire department and fire service during Hurricane Florence. I actually stayed up at the fire department for a few days and helped out with our command center and they were surprised I stayed there and called me the ‘Sand Bag King.’ That’s all I handed out was sand bags," explained Mondesir.
Kerlyn added that while being with the Hartsville Fire Department, he’s learned respect, maturity and leadership skills from his fellow brothers.
“They taught me how to talk to people properly. They taught me no matter where I came from, there are people out there that will help you and some people from the department came from different backgrounds, but you wouldn’t be able to tell because they treat each other the same," said Mondesir. “When its time to work and that tone drops, its time to put on your big boy pants, as they say, and get to work," Mondesir stated as he showed off his radio.
Mondesir completed 40 hours of class time, a written and physical exam.
“I was able to become a certified firefighter for the state of South Carolina and can fight interior structure firefighters.”
Mondesir is thankful he can balance his fire duties with school work just fine.
“The principal wouldn’t allow me to leave school to respond to a fire and I worked things out with chief. He said whenever I can respond, respond and because I am a volunteer I am able to help cover shifts at the fire department over the weekend or when I don’t have school," Mondesir said.
As far as Mondesir’s political interests, he explained when his fascination began.
“I knew nothing about politics through middle school. When I entered 9th grade and I started taking advance government classes, I started learning about political parties and realizing what aligns with what and ever since then I’ve watched every single presidential election of the 2016 campaign, and I was just fascinated, I know some people might think that’s boring, but I am just fascinated with politics," he said.
Whether Mondesir wants to go the first responder route or tackle the political field in the future he said, “Right after college I would like to work with a politician hopefully, either Lindsay Graham or Tim Scott and help draft policies or bills to help people of the working class and then hopefully run for office, but for now, start in the background and help draft policies and bills.”
Through Mondesir’s political involvement with Palmetto Boys State and 4H Legislative Day, he had the opportunity to meet both Hugh Weathers, the Commissioner of Agriculture and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
When people ask him what he credits to his success and determination he answered, “I tell everyone my back story because if I was able to do it then anyone can, because I don’t come from a wealthy, influential background, and if it wasn’t for some scholarships, I wouldn’t be attending college. If I can do it, you can. Anyone can overcome adversity and achieve their goal no matter what lies in front of them.”
Mondesir has academic scholarships to attend Coker College in Hartsville to study political science.