Overcomes Debilitating Illness; Enrolls in College to Follow Lifelong Career Goal

Brennan Keesling was flourishing in high school when he contracted a disabling illness that threatened to curtail all of his hard work and accomplishments. Now, thanks to the work he completed at Smart Horizons Career Online High School (SHCOHS), he holds a high school diploma with a homeland security certificate. Upon graduating from the program, he earned a $20,000 scholarship to attend George Mason University’s top-ranked criminal justice program, where he will use his SHCOHS training as a pathway toward a career in homeland security.

Brennan knew from the age of five that he wanted to be a public servant. By the time he entered high school he had already started paving the path toward his dream of a career in counterterrorism with the FBI.

This self-starter worked tobacco stings, volunteered with the Sheriff’s emergency response team and learned Russian online on his own in his free time.

Unfortunately, an unexpected and debilitating illness stopped Brennan in his tracks.

Brennan contracted Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) Syndrome, which made his heart race when he would stand up, causing extreme dizziness, chronic fatigue, and fainting.
Brennan was hospitalized a few times after he fell, and he found it hard to catch up on the work he missed at his high school.

Brennan’s cousin told him about SHCOHS. Brennan was thrilled that SHCOHS offered a certificate in homeland security, which aligned perfectly with his educational and career goals.

“If not for SHCOHS, I would have had to repeat my senior year of high school,” Brennan said. “I have always been determined and a self-starter, and doing a grade over again was really difficult for me to accept. I wanted to do everything I could to stay focused and on track. SHCOHS helped me do that.”

Brennan enjoyed learning online. He was already a fairly structured student, and he found the classes interesting, especially homeland security and history.

“I really liked working on my own schedule, and I loved the flexibility. I learn much better on my own without the distraction of a classroom environment.”

Brennan is now cured of his symptoms. (Many POTS children grow out of the disorder.) He is looking forward to traveling to the East Ukraine in the summer to teach English, a job he landed through his own research. He enjoys running and looks forward to getting back to his mixed martial arts training.

Most importantly, Brennan is excited to attend college. He was awarded a coveted scholarship to George Mason University in the fall, where he plans to expand on the education he received at SHCOHS. He will study global affairs and counterterrorism, continuing to work toward his career dream of working in the FBI.