I Felt Like I Didn’t Belong because I Wasn’t a Normal Child | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

I Felt Like I Didn’t Belong because I Wasn’t a Normal Child

Trey Hebert


There have been many times in Trey Hebert’s life where he couldn’t hold his head up, all stemming from childhood trauma that caused a world of difficulty.

“There was a moment, not too long ago, that I thought I would never be good enough to earn a degree.” Trey said.

Trey’s story begins in Texas where he lived with his mother, a single mom. When Trey was just six years old, his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. For the next three years, the young boy tagged along with his mom to her chemotherapy treatments. Despite the aggressive treatment, his mother passed away when Trey was nine.

“I was trying to live a normal life as a child,” Trey said. “But one day I woke up and my mom was gone, and I didn’t know what to do with myself as a little boy. I tried counseling and grieving with other children who had lost a parent, but I always felt alienated. I felt like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t a normal child.”

Trey’s Aunt Teresa and Uncle Eric raised Trey from that point forward. When Trey hit his teen years, all the grief and trauma caught up with him and he started to act out. His emotions related to losing his mother and his anger toward his disengaged father fueled anxiety and depression. To cope, Trey began to party – hard.

“At best, I was problematic all through high school,” Trey said. “After graduation, I decided I wanted to go down my own route, without any rules or anyone holding me back. I up and moved to Austin to attempt to go to community college, but I basically spent two full years partying and didn’t make any real progress in life. I bounced from job to job and barely made any headway in the classroom.”

At age 20, as Trey spiraled downward, he heard from his South Florida relatives, Uncle Mark and Aunt Dawn. His uncle posed this question: “Do you want to do something with your life or end up like your father?”

“That was it,” said Trey. “I’d had enough and decided I needed to take changing my life into my own hands. With my aunt and uncle’s help, I dealt with my substance abuse issues. My Uncle Mark and Aunt Dawn taught me all of the things that Aunt Teresa and Uncle Eric didn’t have the chance to share with me, because I left in an impulsive fit during the tail end of my senior year in high school.”

Trey moved from Austin, Texas, to Plantation, Florida, to reboot his life. He decided to make a second attempt at college, and with his aunts, uncles and grandmother cheering him on – he became “Empowered by Broward.”

“My family’s support has been amazing,” he said. “They had always seen me stumble and be indecisive, until I finally found my direction in life.”

His direction included a newly discovered love of the ocean, which ultimately merged with his career path.

“I have a strong attachment to the ocean and water,” Trey said. “I knew I would have a future in the yachting industry and figured an associate degree in Marine Engineering Management would set me apart from other candidates of my age and experience.”

With a clear head and fresh perspective, Trey tackled his studies. He worked during the day and attended class at night.

“It was a big challenge. I worked at a marina – crawling around engine rooms doing repairs and maintenance on marine diesel engines – in order to pay my bills,” said Trey. “This physical labor paired with having to sit in a classroom or shop in the evenings tested my perseverance.”

Although challenging, Trey persisted. He was helped financially by scholarship support from Broward College’s Marine Program and Caterpillar Engine Company, for which he remains extremely grateful.

“I had the opportunity to offer thanks to Caterpillar and Broward College at a Broward College District Board of Trustees meeting,” he said. “It was amazing to be able to show my appreciation and explain to everyone involved in Broward College, from the top down, how much of an impact getting my degree has had on my life.”

Trey, 25, graduated in August of 2017 with an associate degree in Marine Engineering Management. Upon graduation, he worked as an engineer on an 80-foot yacht and now is the engineer aboard a 130-foot private motor yacht, which runs up the U.S. coast from the Florida Keys to New England and Nova Scotia each year. Trey, who hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and naval architecture one day, has great enthusiasm for his career and the marine industry.

“Because of Broward College, I wake up every day with a career that allows me to hold my head up high. The yachting world already has taken me to London, private islands in the Bahamas, Mexico and Cuba,” he said. “Here’s to traveling the whole world thanks, to the degree and certifications from Broward College!”

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