“Wow, wow, wow.” Those were IACS Social Worker Nancy Tripp’s first words when she saw Evan Hirmer ‘11 when he visited IACS on May 5. Hirmer, who said his main high school attire was sweatpants and a T–shirt, was dressed in a full suit complete with a red dress shirt and tie. He was also sporting a goatee and had shaved off his afro.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of inward growth [since leaving IACS]. I wouldn’t be able to demonstrate that [to the staff], so I settled for outward growth,” he said.
This was the first time Hirmer had visited IACS since the Class of 2011 reunion in January 2012. Hirmer said he had butterflies the entire car ride over to IACS. When asked to describe what it felt like being back, he said “overwhelmed.”
Hirmer struggled on multiple levels in high school, suffering through a seven year pattern of mental illness, suicide attempts, and torrid drug addiction. He admits a lot of his memories of high school are “hazy.”
“Post–IACS I had zero vision for myself. I was still heavily addicted to numerous substances and trying to self–medicate all of my problems away. I had no direction,” he said.
After fully recognizing the consequences of his habits and realizing how they were affecting him and those around him, he realized he needed to turn his life around.
Currently, he is enrolled at Middlesex Community College studying Psychology. He also volunteers his time to work with the drug–addicted and homeless population in Lowell and counsel high dropout–risk students at Lowell High School through the Partners in Achievement of Lowell Students (P.A.L.S.) program.
Tripp said Hirmer had an interest in Psychology and the homeless population since high school.
Hirmer grew up just two blocks down the street from a homeless shelter in Lowell. For his Senior Project, he created a brochure of resources for homeless people. As part of his church, he delivers home–cooked meals to the homeless people and helps them study the Bible. He also helps by “just being a presence among them, treating them like people, giving them advice, trying to solve disputes,” and doing what he can to “love them the way Jesus would have.”
He said talking with them has “presented a lot of unique opportunities to get to know a wide variety of people who for all intensive purposes are at the lowest point in their life.”
Hirmer has also found his work with P.A.L.S. to be extremely rewarding.
“It’s such an inspiration to see them go from no ambition to graduate, to fighting for it [graduation] and feeling like they’re needed,” he said. At P.A.L.S., he engages the students in team building exercises, gets food, and goes on field trips.
“It’s really rewarding to see that they can enjoy themselves without getting into the same kind of things I did,” he said.
Although Hirmer says, “I have no idea where my life is leading,” he has several prospective directions. One would be to finish his degree in Psychology at Middlesex and pursue a career in that field. Another idea he has is teaching English in Cambodia. He also said his sister is trying to convince him to move to L.A. to do production work. Whatever direction it is, it will certainly be an exciting one.