The values of a real winner

Wiley A. Hall 3rd

May 07, 1991|By Wiley A. Hall 3rd

This is the sort of thing that rarely shows up on resumes: Elmer Sembly 3rd, is 32-years-old, a devoted husband and a full-time father with three children.

He works at the U.S. Post Office.

He teaches a Sunday morning class at his local church, leads the songs during the service, and counsels young people during the week.

He is trying to start his own business.

And he is a full-time student at Villa Julie College. . .

"There's an awful lot of full-time activities on your schedule," I noted. "Don't you get tired?"

Sembly looked over at his wife, Ann. She looked at him. They both laughed.

"All the time," he said.

. . .And this is the type of thing that does appear on resumes: During a three-year tour with the U.S. Marine Corps, Sembly was promoted to sergeant, and was named the Marine Corps Recruiter of the Year in 1981.

He has earned an associate of arts and is a year away from a bachelor's degree, maintaining all the while a 3.2 grade point average.

And on May 23, during the college's commencement exercises, Elmer Sembly 3rd will receive the President's Award for Personal Achievement from Villa Julie's president, Carolyn Manuszak.

Sembly, said Manuszak, "exemplifies the motivation, diligence, grace under pressure, determination, and personal integrity essential to overcoming the hardships and pressures sometimes present in achieving a college degree.

"He is hard-working, forthright, intelligent and articulate. He is a quiet leader, respected by his fellow students for the values by which he lives, and for his ability to convey strong ideas in a soft-spoken manner.

"He is respected by his professors for the high quality of his academic work and for his perceptive contributions in the classroom."

"Good lord!" I cried, after I had digested this tribute. "Who is this guy?"

Sembly shrugged. His wife smiled and patted his hand.

"I don't know," Sembly said quietly, modestly. "I'm just a guy who loves his family and who tries to work hard to give them everything I can. I'm a guy who believes in God and I'm a guy who believes in giving everything I can back to the community.

"I guess that's it," said Sembly with another shrug. "I guess that's all there is to it."

Close your eyes and try to picture him and you're bound to get it right. He is clean-cut and handsome, of medium build, earnest and energetic.

He grew up in Edmondson Village, graduated from Edmondson High School, and married Ann, his high school sweetheart shortly after graduation. He was 18 years old at the time. She was 16 and pregnant.

"People told us we were too young," said Sembly, "that it would zTC never work out. But I said I wanted a family, that family structure, and I wanted that for my child. I had too many friends in Edmondson Village who did not have a father at all. Or if they had one, he was insignificant -- never around, or unemployed, or on alcohol. I knew how painful that could be."

So Sembly worked hard. His wife, Ann, worked hard, too. That, in fact, seems to be this young couple's credo: Work hard. Sacrifice. Provide for the children.

Sembly went back to school four years ago after he and Ann looked at their finances and realized they did not make enough money to send all of their children to college, yet they made too much to receive financial assistance from the government.

Their daughter, Shawnta, 13, is an honor student at Old Court Middle School and hopes to get into Western High School next year. Elmer Sembly 4th, 11, is bright, articulate, and is slowly learning that he will do his homework each evening. Cory, 8, is just as bright and just as articulate.

"I kind of did everything backwards," said Sembly. "I got married at 18 and went to school at 31. I want it to be easier for them [his children]. I want them to have more direction than I had.

"I want," he continued, "for this generation of my family to prosper economically. My job is to set a good foundation so that my children can spring from that."

And that is what it's all about: Hard work. Sacrifice. Providing for the children. The kind of values that often are not reflected on resumes.

But sometimes they are.

In Sembly's case, you have only to read the long and awe-inspiring tributes attached to the Villa Julie President's Award for Personal Achievement.

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