This 10-part series highlights the 2021 McGowan Courage Award nominees. Brought to you by the Mansfield Rotary Club.
MANSFIELD – As a person living with autism, Mansfield Christian senior Jason Dills has often struggled with emotional, social and academic challenges. While those challenges will always exist for him, he’s remained valiant in achieving success in his three years at Madison Christian.
As a recipient of the 2021 McGowan Courage Award, Dills has demonstrated a great measure of personal perseverance as observed by his teachers and counselors.
“I'm very happy,” Dills said. “What it means to win the Courage Award is an honor.”
Dills has struggled in the past personally, socially and academically. One of his biggest challenges was self-loathing and anger when feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks. After learning to trust his teachers, Dills developed a step-by-step strategy to help him communicate and manage his emotions in appropriate ways.
Dills also needed to learn how to properly communicate with his peers while dealing with insecurities and anxiety. By channeling his sense of humor, he’s able to keep his friends and family laughing at all times. He’s also learned to have self-acceptance.
“Jason is willing to share his story of perseverance with his peers, displaying humility and courage in order to encourage and cheer those around him. As a result, Jason is well loved and valued at Mansfield Christian School,” wrote Charlene Eder, guidance counselor at Madison Christian in her recommendation letter.
While in school, Dills could always be found cheerfully greeting students and teachers as he walked the halls. His contagious joy could bring a smile to anyone’s face.
“My relationship with my classmates is really good,” Dills said.
In the past three years, Dills has come a long way academically. His attention to detail has provided great success with his courses and assignments. He’s also shown to be capable of advocating for himself in the classroom.
Though he faced similar challenges to his peers in the 2020-2021 school year with COVID-19 affecting his daily routine, Dills persevered. He returned to school in the fall of last year and had to learn how to integrate back into his daily routine.
By diving into those challenges head first, he has become more confident and self-assured. After graduation, he will go through a transition year where he adjusts from school to a working environment.
“Courageous and persevering, Jason is a joy at Mansfield Christian School. It is with great pride that I nominate Jason Dills for the 2021 McGowan Courage Award,” Eder wrote.
The 2021 McGowan Courage Awards are supported by these sponsors:
Park National Bank
North Central State College
Mansfield Art Center