At the college and beyond, Shegog is doing his part to address substance use disorder through his motivational speaking organization The Message. “When I first got clean, I had to ask myself: Is it good enough to be sober, or do I want to make a difference in the world?” Through his company, he inspires, educates and helps create healthy lifestyles for all. “I sell hope for a living,” he adds, smiling when he describes a recent gift from his daughter: a bracelet inscribed with the words “hope dealer.”
His unwavering dedication to spreading hope has already taken him places he could not have imagined while homeless and in and out of treatment programs. In October, he was the only student speaker to present at the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education’s annual Student Leadership Development Institute, and in February, he spoke at Clarion University. An assignment he wrote for English class, titled “Resources for Students in Recovery Should Be as Common as the Bookstore,” was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer in August 2018. And recently, Gary Tennis, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, personally tapped Shegog to assist with the Model State Collegiate Recovery Act.
While these achievements could make one lose sight of his roots, Shegog remains humble and gracious. “My success in recovery is only possible because of the support that was available to me through the help of many people, some of whom I met at Delaware County Community College.”
Shegog, who resides in Drexel Hill, enrolled at Delaware County Community College in the fall of 2017 because he knew community colleges offer a variety of educational support services. Through Act 101 and the Keystone Education Yields Success programs, he found his footing and was introduced to a few of the people he credits most with his success: counselor Rose Kurtz; Dr. Kendrick Mickens, director of First Year Experiences; and Erica Reeves, retention specialist. “The personal connections I’ve made with faculty and staff have changed my life personally and academically,” he says.
As a college student, Shegog has flourished. He maintains a 3.5 GPA, has earned several scholarships and was recently inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. In November, he received a scholarship from The Ammon Foundation and membership in their Recovery Scholars Program. The award letter commended his “extraordinary example of leadership, hope and recovery.”
After finishing at the college, Shegog will transfer to Cheyney University on a full scholarship thanks to the Keystone Honors Academy Scholarship program. As a recipient of this highly selective scholarship, Shegog will receive full tuition, room and board, and other special services geared toward student success.
When asked about his future, Shegog describes even bigger plans. He wants to earn a doctorate in communication studies so he can expand his business and affect policy changes for students in recovery.
“I hope that one day soon, students will not have to fight for addiction and recovery services,” he says, “but that they will be as common as finding the bookstore.”