As his hand reaches out for the stack of dishes stacked in the window, Silas Sheek does just one part of his weekly routine of working at Dora Roberts Dinning Hall.
“[I do] dishwashing and wash the pots and pans in the back,” Sheek said. “Last semester, I did serving line quite frequently, which is what I actually enjoyed the most since I actually got to interact with the students more. My official position is general utilities though they kind of want me to know how to do everything, if need be.”
Sheek, who works for Dora’s at least four to five hours every day except for Wednesdays and Fridays, is also a senior criminal justice major at Texas Wesleyan University. Just like all other students, he has his own passions and goals while he works his way through college, even though he spends a large portion of his time serving students in the cafeteria.
“Even though I am a student [just like they are] some of them might think I’m below them, because I’m working at the cafeteria they’re going to,” Sheek said. “I honestly don’t know if that’s true or not. Based on the way some of them treat the employees or behave in Dora’s in general it just seems to suggest that they think they are above us.”
Dr. Cary Adkinson, an associate professor of criminal justice, can relate to the challenges of having to work in service place near his campus and has this advice for Silas.
“The advice I would give a student like Silas or anybody else, is to not worry about what people think,” Adkinson said. “There’s always going to be people out there that are critical to you and judge you, you do what you have to to get your education and get in a position where you can use that privilege to help people. I tell students this all the time, I am so thankful that I had that job [at Footlocker], because it taught me how judgmental people can be, but it also taught me that there’s an inherit value doing any kind of work that you do.”
Adkinson is proud of Silas for working at Dora’s, but he’s even more proud to have him as a student.
“Silas is the type of student that I think most of us would be very thankful for us to have in our classes,” Adkinson said. “He’s very enthusiastic and gregarious. We do from time to time have to remind Silas that ‘hey there are other people in class that have questions’ but that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that he is so engaged and so thirsty for knowledge that not once – and I’ve had in in several classes – have I had to worry about him being on a cellphone or distracted away from the topic at hand. I think that’s something other students would do well to emulate.”
Dr. Eddy Lynton, an assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology, also enjoys Silas as a student in his classes.
“He’s a great student,” Lynton said. “He contributes a lot in class, which is fun. I like him in class because he participates a lot, he does his reading, and he does his connections to the text and the real-world practicality examples. He pulls it together.”
Jared Archer, a senior forensic accounting major, met Silas in a summer biology class at TCC and noticed his engagement in class.
“I noticed he was very talkative right off the bat, very energetic, and very outgoing,” Archer said. “He always had something to say during class or after class. He was very rarely at a loss for words.”
Archer thinks the field of criminal justice fits well for Silas because he seems to have strong morals and isn’t afraid to call people out when they’re doing something wrong.
“He has a very strong set of values and he knows for sure the difference between right and wrong,” Archer said. “He has a very strong sense of justice. I do feel like for those reasons he is really good for being there to lay down the law, enforce the law, and make sure people are abiding by it. He’d have no problem with telling people, ‘hey, you’re not allowed to do that.’”
Archer, Lynton, and Adkinson all agree that Silas has a strong sense of curiosity. Adkinson believes that will be an advantage for him in the field.
“He doesn’t seem to mind – his in my homicide class right now – exploring the darker aspects of human behavior, crime scene photos, and talking about cases, because his overwhelming personality style is curiosity, which I think is absolutely critical for surviving the rigors both psychological and physical that come with this work. I think he’s going to do really well because of that.”
Sheek says his sense his sense of curiosity comes from his love of knowledge.
“I love to learn,” Sheek said. “It’s interesting just learning new things and seeing things from different perspectives.”
Sheek also loves working with his hands so he has several hobbies centered around creating things: building models, creating original LEGO designs, knitting, crocheting, sewing, drawing, cooking, and baking.
“I’ve always been fascinated with how things work,” Sheek said. “When I was younger I used to like to take things apart and usually I could put them back together, sometimes I couldn’t. Though it wasn’t usually anything extremely important, so I never really got in trouble for it. I always fidget too. I like doing stuff with my hands since it keeps me busy.”
Lynton admires Sheek for having such a diverse set of passions.
“I think he’s got diverse interests, which I think make him really unique and that’s pretty cool,” Lynton said. “He’s not like [the people that are] ‘I’m only into one type of thing’. He’s got a lot of interests and passions and that’s pretty cool.”
With such a diverse set of passions Sheek doesn’t quite know what he wants to do when he graduates from college.
“I’ve always been interested in how people think, how they work, and why people do the things that they do, which is why I’m a psychology minor. I’m also interested in helping people [which is why I’m a criminal justice major], not necessarily law enforcement per say, but something in those lines.”
Adkinson has told Sheek he’d like to see him in grad school after he graduates this spring.
“He’s already demonstrating qualities that are suspiciously associated with success and enjoyment at the graduate level, which is that powerful curiosity and the willingness to read what’s assigned to him,” Adkinson said. “Sometimes for other students it’s like I have to hold their hands or strongly encourage them, but with Silas it’s not only that he’s going to read what we give him to read, he’s also probably come back and ask us for what else can I read on top of that. If he doesn’t go into grad school, more power to him, but both the world and Silas I think might be shortchanged, because I think he’d make an excellent professor someday.”
Sheek would like to get into grad school eventually, but he’s unsure if it will be right out of college with him graduating at 20. He feels he may need some more experience from a job first.
“Unless I can get some really good experience elsewhere it’s going to be pretty difficult to get into graduate school, which is probably why I might not end up going at least not initially,” Sheek said. “Getting into graduate school is at least one of my goals, since getting your doctorate’s is sort of like the ultimate goal of education and learning. Even if I do get a doctorate, it doesn’t mean that I want to stop there though. That’s one thing that I’m kind of concerned about: continuing to learn, but also dealing with life and everything else that it throws at you.”