Amazing journey from foster care to Annapolis
This week 17-year-old Tim Cecil began his first year of post-high school military education at the Naval Academy Preparatory School, in Newport, R.I. After that he'll spend four years at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
He's excited and a little nervous about this new adventure.
"Everything I'm taking with me is on top of my bed. Everything else I need will be given to me when I get there," he said.
For the past several years Tim has studied hard and played hard. He likes volleyball, track and field, cross-country running, soccer, golf, ultimate frisbee and, naturally, watching sports.
Music, writing and drawing are his creative interests.
Tim plays classical viola, performing with the Yosemite Strings Academy, the Fresno Youth Orchestra, Mariposa Symphony Orchestra and the Oak-hurst Community String Orchestra.
Born in Fresno and raised in Mariposa, he graduated last month with honors from Glacier Charter High School in Oak-hurst. His grade-point average was 3.86, earning him the academic decathlon award for highest scoring senior. He also won an award for community involvement.
At 5-foot-11 and 135 pounds, no one would guess by looking at him how fragile his life was as an infant in the foster care system. "It's incredible what he's doing, because none of this was supposed to happen," his mom said.
Because of health problems and birth family issues, Tim was placed in Dave and Debee Cecil's home when he was 1 month old. Within a few short weeks, the Cecils took in another foster child. Chris, 7 months, also had health issues.
The Cecils had raised four biological children but wanted to do more. The two youngest were in their teens, still at home and able to help with their new little brothers.
A couple of years later, Michael, born prematurely, was added to the family. All three boys were later adopted.
Family photos cover one wall in the hallway. More photos sit in frames around the living room, in photo albums and on Debee's iPad. In a few photos Tim as a toddler stands on a friend's front porch, gazing at potted flowers. He has appreciated beauty and detail from an early age, Debee said..
Home schooling, music lessons, sports, church involvement and the Civil Air Patrol contributed to the boys' successes as they grew. In the Civil Air Patrol, Tim received the Billy Mitchell award, the equivalent of an Eagle Scout badge.
He was 15 when he decided on a military career.
Last year, he was selected for the summer seminar with the Naval Academy and spent one intensive week in Annapolis with 750 other teens, getting a taste of Navy life through military drills, academics, sports and leadership training.
To be admitted to the school he obtained a congressional nomination from his district representative and appeared before an interview board.
Tim was a member of Fresno's First Tee Golf Association. He attributes golf and the Civil Air Patrol for teaching him leadership skills and discipline he'll need for reaching his goals.
Once a shy, reticent kid, Tim is popular among his peers and converses easily with adults.
After graduation from the Naval Academy he hopes to get into military intelligence. He's looking forward to cruising the globe. "I've been on a ship before, but not Navy ships."
He's grateful for his adoptive family, and knows his future wouldn't be filled with so much potential without them.
With close to 100,000 California children in foster care, according to www.onthemovebayarea.org, and less than half graduating from high school, Tim is clearly bucking the trend.
Thanks to one family who was willing to make Tim their own, he was able to avoid becoming another sad statistic.
28 July 30123