Last year, Jeremy Scull set a goal to graduate in 2019 from Salem Community College with a degree in computer graphic art. Meanwhile at home in Quinton, he set out on an extraordinary athletic goal – to participate in an Ironman Triathlon. He looked no further than his family for motivation.
“To be honest, rather reluctantly, I signed up last July for Ironman Lake Placid after watching my 18-year-old sister (Olivia – a 2017 SCC graduate) and my Dad cross the finish line,” recalled Jeremy, whose family has done seven Ironman Triathlons over 11 years. “Why was I reluctant? Well, to be honest, my self-confidence was low. I did not begin speaking until the age of five and my parents were told by family, teachers, and even some doctors to just let me be. If I talked, I talked. If I didn’t, my family should just accept that as my fate.”
Jeremy compared the extraordinary commitment to preparing for the Ironman with his life journey. “In some respects, I felt like I had been training for this event my whole life,” he said.
“Ironman‘s mantra, ‘Anything is Possible’ is the approach we used to navigate my circumstances. So, I spent most of my childhood coming home after school and being taught what I did not understand. Luckily, I had an amazing support system at home who tried to convince me that I had the heart of a champion. We would sit at our kitchen counter for an average of 5 to 6 hours every night, learning and relearning information -- striving to bridge the communication gap between myself and my peers. I left the house each morning, chanting our family’s mantra for me, ‘I am smart, and I can do it!’”
Jeremy attended the SCVTS culinary arts and graphic design programs. In 2015, he graduated as one of the top students in his class and earned New Jersey STARS and School Counts! scholarships to attend SCC, where he majors in computer graphic art.
Jeremy’s determination made his athletic accomplishment this summer all the more special. “On July 22, I completed one of the most difficult journeys of my life, an Ironman triathlon.” He explained it consists of a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and concluding with a 26.2-mile run – all to be completed in under 17 hours.
But last year, before committing to the Ironman Triathlon, he said his weight was “spiraling out of control and my confidence was plummeting.”
It was time for a change. “This is when my family knew that it was my time to compete in Ironman. I was signed up and I’d like to say ready to go, but if I’m being honest, I was freaking out,” he said. “I started an intense 36-week training program in the fall of 2017 and didn’t look back. I lost approximately 45 pounds in the process and, that alone, made the journey worth it.
“The bonus? I faced my fears, dug deep, and with the support of family, friends, and strangers, crossed the finish line with Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman) exclaiming, ‘Jeremy Scull, you are an Ironman!’ The Ironman experience has changed my life in immeasurable ways. I was finally able to feel part of a community and my physical and mental health have never been better. The message conveyed by Ironman and the hope and inspiration it provides to people is priceless.”
He also appreciates the strong support of SCC faculty and staff in his academic life. “The College has worked with me to overcome lingering deficits in my language skills,” said Jeremy. “This willingness to help me succeed has allowed me to open up more, and to not be afraid to ask for help and support.”
After graduation, he hopes to find a job in computer graphics. “However, I am unsure of the job market in the immediate area,” he said. “I’ve considered moving to Burlington, Vermont (where my sister attends college) after graduation. I’m no longer afraid to try new things and take chances.”
His advice for current and prospective SCC students: “Follow Ironman’s mantra: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.”