He Changed My Life

He Changed My Life

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

He Changed My Life

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 13:35

As a senior at James Marshall High School in West Sacramento, California, I did not have much ambition for college. I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was twelve; I was active in the Church for four years, then went inactive from my sixteenth to my eighteenth year. In April 1966, just before graduation, my biology teacher, Harold Jeters (the only African-American at my high school)—who taught like a college professor—pulled me aside and asked, “Kenn, what are you going to do after high school?”

I told him I was probably going to go to American River Junior College in Carmichael, California, but I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do. He quipped, “Wait a minute, aren’t you a Mormon kid?”

“Yes.”

“Then why aren’t you going to BYU?”

“I don’t know.”

“You get your application papers from BYU and see me here next week. We will sit down and fill out your papers and submit them right away. You are going to Brigham Young University.”

Wow! I knew he was trying to mentor me, as he taught a very demanding course of biology and expected the most from his students, but this one really threw me off. His stare went deep into my soul, and I knew how he felt about what he was telling me to do.

I did get my application from BYU and met with Mr. Jeters the following week. We sat down at his desk after school and filled out the papers, page by page. It was a late submission for admission, but I was accepted to BYU. I met my wife, Barbara, during my first year there. With her zeal for education, I continued and graduated with a degree in biology. I was then accepted into the Aviation Reserve Officers’ Candidate Program, and served as a naval flight officer for eight and a half years. Following my time in the navy, I attended the University of Washington, where I received my DDS degree.

I owe my current quality of life to Mr. Harold Jeters, a special agent of the Lord who helped me find my way back into activity in the Church and helped me carve out a career that has allowed me to serve actively for many years since. I am now fifty-six years old and take every opportunity I can to encourage youth to continue their education. I was far off the LDS track when Mr. Jeters grabbed me one day in that biology classroom, but his insistence changed my life. I am ever grateful to him for his devotion to his students—especially to me.

Kenneth Stinchfield

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