Distance and diverging paths had relegated Hank and his high school sweetheart-turned-friend, Courtney Morgan, to staying loosely connected through social media. That changed in May of 2014 when Hank was in town for a music festival, and the two decided to meet up over coffee.
Before the hellos and the how-are-yous and the life updates, Hank first asked Courtney, “When are you opening up your coffee shop?” He knew it was dream of hers, and he wanted to know if she was still working toward it.
“Well…” Courtney admitted that dream had changed. During a stint as a barista she quickly learned that all the behind-the-scenes work of running a coffee shop was, in fact, quite boring. She still hadn’t figured out exactly what she wanted to do long-term with her life.
Hank, on the other hand, seemed to know exactly where he was headed. He was excited about his career at Express and flashed a wide grin when he proudly showed her his pilot’s license. He seemed to have his future figured out, and he was living his dreams. He encouraged Courtney to continue doing the same.
One cup of coffee turned in to several cups, and the friends who grew up together ended their three hour visit with best wishes and promises to stay better connected.
• • •
When the news about Hank finally sunk in for Courtney, the sadness was deep and enduring. For over a year Courtney continued to try to push forward and figure out her life’s direction, when of all things an episode of “Friday Night Lights” brought clarity. She wanted to be a high school counselor.
Looking back on her time in high school, Courtney was a self-admitted troublemaker, while Hank was, as she describes, the perfect child. But Hank helped Courtney through those difficult high school years.
“He was trustworthy, and he was always encouraging me to be a better person,” she says.
Courtney’s goal of becoming a high school counselor is how she is committed to keep it going. “I want to be that person that kids can come to, no matter their problems, and help them get excited about the future. I want to know where they want to go and help them get there.”
Courtney returned to college this past spring and is working toward her bachelor’s degree in psychology through Fort Hays State University. She completes her coursework in the evenings and weekends while continuing her full-time day job as a receptionist. She laughs when she thinks about Hank getting a kick out of the girl who swore she’d never return to college after starting and stopping a few times. Courtney’s career path includes not only completing her bachelor’s degree, but going on to earn her master’s as well.
In the midst of her friend’s painful absence, Courtney is pursuing her purpose to help others be better, just like Hank did.
“To me, keep it going means making the most of every day,” she adds. “I can’t just let things happen. Whatever my dreams are, I have to go out and make it happen.”