A Serendipitous Afternoon and an HRS Sweatshirt - HRS Alumni Keenan Haack '06

On a sunny, fall afternoon, Joan Beauregard, former head of school, made a trip to the Mercer Island farmers market to purchase flowers.

While wearing her HRS sweatshirt, she approached one of the flower stands and the friendly vendors were delighted to tell her their son attended the school named on Joan’s sweatshirt! In this encounter, Joan met Katie and Jim Haack, whose son, Keenan, was a Hamlin Robinson School student in the mid-2000’s.

Joan left the farmers market that afternoon with the Haack’s contact information. We were thrilled to receive a call from Keenan a few weeks later.

After graduating from HRS in 2006, Keenan attended Cedarcrest High School in Duvall. He spent time at Bellevue College before deciding to pursue a career in the medical field. Keenan went on to Seattle Pacific University and after receiving a minor in Psychology, he began pursuing a nursing degree and is currently enrolled in the nursing program at SPU. Keenan attends class during the week and works weekends in the Burn & Pediatric ICU at Harborview Medical Center where he is a nursing assistant. Although working in this unit is hard, Keenan says it is incredibly rewarding. He loves helping people and as he watches their progress, he is inspired. Those being treated have likely just been through the hardest experience of their lives, but they are resilient. He says it teaches him to value life and never take anything for granted. Keenan is confident he found his calling and will graduate with a degree in nursing next year.

When you think of HRS, what comes to mind?
HRS helped me develop many of the skills I use today. Words that come to mind when I think of HRS: dedication, understanding, hope, reassurance, and acceptance. My school years prior to HRS were a struggle, but HRS allowed me to learn to love myself. The teachers taught me what dyslexia was and helped me understand how I learn. I just needed to develop the right skills and strategies. It was such a relief when I discovered I wasn't alone. HRS gave me the confidence to excel in anything I strive to do in life.

What is one thing you do just because you love it?
I absolutely love working in the healthcare field. The opportunities are endless. I have the ability to help so many people. The feeling of seeing someone get better over time and eventually come back to visit to let you know how much impact you've had on their life is something you never forget. It's one of the biggest driving factors in my decision to become a nurse. I have the opportunity to care for those who need help.

What motivates you in daily life?
My parents, Jim and Katie, have the biggest impact on my ability to dream big and go after my goals. They motivate me to stay true to myself, show love and compassion towards others, and remain positive and excited about life. My dad told me two things as I was starting my path towards nursing school. Firstly, nothing in life you truly love comes easy, but hard work and passion for the journey bring happiness. Secondly, it doesn't matter if it's small or big, but learn something new every day. I think about this a lot, and it helps keep me going. I am also motivated by my patients and co-workers in the Burn & Pediatric ICU at Harborview. Watching them helps me get through nursing school and inspires me to continue providing the best care for my patients.

What is one piece of advice you would share with others about dyslexia?
Dyslexia isn’t something to hide, but something to embrace. Love yourself for who you are. When I was younger, I felt embarrassed about my dyslexia and resented having to use my accommodations in high school. I also neglected to use the accommodations and resources I was approved for when I first started college and as a result, my grades suffered.

Highlight some of your most valued achievements:

1. Although I didn't think of it at the time, attending HRS and learning the tools I needed to succeed in school was my first achievement.

2. Graduating high school with a top GPA and top of my class was definitely the point in my life when I knew I had what it takes.

3. If you want to excel and do your best in school, remember to advocate for yourself and ask for academic support.

4. I spent three years applying to nursing programs and in 2019, I received an acceptance letter from Seattle Pacific University. This was a huge achievement. It took endless amounts of work, dedication and passion to get to this point. As a nursing student, I've maintained nearly a 4.0 GPA for the last two quarters and am honored to have been named to the dean's list for academic achievements.

5. I look forward to graduating nursing school in 2022 and hope to start working in Harborview's Burn & Pediatric ICU. Because of my love and passion for education and my desire to keep learning, I hope to return to school to earn my DNP as a nurse anesthetist.

For my parents: What made a big difference for me as an individual with dyslexia was having parents who showed me endless love and support. They were always there to talk when things got tough, and reassured me I could do anything I put my mind to. Dyslexia doesn’t just go away, but having the support of loving parents who care and the opportunity to attend a school like HRS, gave me the tools to navigate through life so I can excel.

About Wild Canary Farm
Katie and Jim Haack own Wild Canary Farm, a small family farm located in the lush Snoqualmie Valley. In 2004, the Haack’s decided to follow their dream of owning their own farm and relocated their family to the picturesque region 30 miles east of Seattle. The farm is in an area with amazing mineral soil, abundant wildlife and a beautiful river that flows through the property. They specialize in exceptional quality grass-fed beef and cut flower fields bursting with countless varieties of seasonal blooms. To find out more about Wild Canary Farm, visit: www.WildCanaryFarm.com

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