Shuntae Goodjoine

Toya Moore | September 13th, 2018
Shuntae Goodjoine (Photos by Apollo Wonex)

Shuntae Goodjoine (Photos by Apollo Wonex)

Discipline. Dedication. Determination. From an early age Shuntae Goodjoine knew that these three words were the foundation for his success. With those three words in mind, he established Shepherds Watch as an official 501(c) 3 in 2014. The mission statement for Shepherds Watch is: Committed to enriching the lives of future leaders through the human and animal bond. Shun (as he is called by friends and family) began the organization as a way to start a movement in the lives of the boys and girls growing up in his community. That movement is deeply rooted in the principles of Pet Education, responsible pet ownership and his true passion, Veterinary Medicine.

Shun began to learn everything he could about animals, especially dogs at a young age. He became known for his ability to take care of and train dogs. That was his informal education. The formal education began when he became a kennel assistant, and eventually a Veterinary Assistant. During those years is when he began to call himself a Pet Enthusiast.

“It kept me out of a lot trouble. It gave me responsibility and discipline, because all I wanted to do was get home and take care of my dog and learn more about dogs. I guess you could also say there was a calmness in learning about animals. I think I found some type of healing when I was learning about and caring for those animals,” he says. After graduating from Southside High School, Shun went off to college and played basketball collegiately, and had aspirations of becoming a Veterinarian. He quickly lost interest in his studies. “I just didn’t fit in there. Although I’m not sure I knew it at the time, I think I was disenfranchised with the lack of culture. There was really nobody there that I could relate to.”

So, he left school, returned to the Upstate and began working for a veterinarian in the area. His informal education continued, but once again he did not feel as if that was where he was supposed to be and again walked away from veterinary medicine. He dabbled in the entertainment industry for a little bit, traveling and writing music. Shun then went into telecommunications work for a few years. He also worked part time for Greenville County with adults that have disabilities and special needs. Currently Shun works as a shift leader in the automotive industry and coaches AAU and high school basketball. He is even an author, having self-published his own book called “Dawg Game”. No matter his profession, he has always owned and trained multiple dogs, and he has always taken the time to educate family, friends, and community about responsible pet ownership. Does he regret not finishing school to become a veterinarian? “I am good with where I am right now,” he says. “But I do sometimes think back and wonder what if I had finished. I kind of feel like my lack of commitment to pursuing my goal to be a veterinarian drives me every day to help these kids pursue their goals. I do that with my program for the kids”.

The program that Shun has created with Shepherds Watch provides an outlet for any child. Any child between the ages of 6 and 16 can participate in the training that Shun provides with his dogs. He uses dogs to teach life lessons, responsibility, leadership and so much more. But why dogs? “Because I feel a connection to dogs more so than any other animals. The intelligence, work ethic, and instinctual ability of the German Shepherd to guide and oversee is what inspired the name of my organization. The strength, loyalty, intelligence, and tenacity of the pit bull has inspired me to keep moving towards my goals. Just taking care of my personal dogs makes me want to do the best I can for them. That in turn makes me want to do what’s best for me. But it’s not about me anymore, it’s about the kids. So, I guess the dogs motivate me to do what’s best for the kids.”

When the conversation shifted to talking about goals, Shun is very specific. “I want to spark minds. I want to close the disproportionate gap between minorities and veterinary medicine. I want to advocate for those doing the right thing and do the best for the community.” His passion for animals and his commitment to youth are obvious with each word he speaks. “I want to partner with Tuskegee University and take kids there. I want to put kids through veterinary school. I want to relate people’s interaction with animals to their interactions in life. I just want to be a source of education and exposure for those that may not have it on their own or in their family.”

Shun is currently working with two community centers and an after-school program in Greenville so he can expand Shepherds Watch. His message of pet education, responsible pet ownership, and veterinary medicine needs to be heard. His method of teaching and developing youth is not traditional, but it works. His desire to serve youth is commendable and his love of animals is admirable. He is humble about the attention and accolades. When acknowledging all he has done, and the greatness that he is planning on doing, he told me “I just want to find some good, that’s all.”

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