These ideas seemed to be the reoccurring theme from the guest speakers during the Career Exploration Day at Camp Discovery @ Northwood.
Rena Potts-Clemons invited me to attend one of the sessions where the students at Camp Discovery had the opportunity to listen to the career stories of successful individuals in our community. What touched me the most were the personal stories from these presenters – their struggles, their hard work, their determination. Each speaker seemed to reiterate the same theme: Don’t let anything hold you back. You can achieve whatever you want with willpower, resilience, and persistence.
Terra Brantley, news anchor on WANE-TV, used her personal stories to draw students in. She shared glimpses of her own childhood and the fact that it was somewhat rocky with violence in her home. She emphasized that no matter one’s background; don’t let anything hold you back. You can do whatever you want to achieve; you can overcome. She stressed the importance of giving back to the community and shared her one personal experience of a house fire where her family lost everything. She was touched by the outpouring of her own community and has since continued to give back.
Both Ed Harris, Assistant Director at Allen County Corrections, and Jason Barnes, NFL Pro Scout for Seattle Seahawks stressed repeatedly to the young people in attendance that one’s choices in life determine one’s future. Mr. Harris, being a person who continually sees individuals making bad decisions, emphasized to the young people that they always need to be conscious of every choice they make. Mr. Barnes stressed that decisions you make in high school…those 3-4 years of your life…will follow you the rest of your life. He told them that decision making is crucial and there is nothing you can’t do as long as you make the right decisions.
Christina Schimmel, formerly with the U.S. military and in upper management with Verizon, shared her personal struggles with the students. As she walked them through her personal stories about her career path and her life decisions, she connected with her audience. She continued to point out that you need to define your own success; don’t follow someone else’s dream for you. Do what pleases you, not what pleases others. She emphasized that with resilience and persistence, you can achieve anything. As young people, you must remember that change is scary, but Ms. Schimmel told them that the best changes in her life were the ones that scared her. Although Ms. Schimmel made $180,000 at one point in her career, this did not make her life a happy one. She told the students that drinking had become a major factor in her life, and after 30+ years , she hit rock bottom. However, she reminded them that “rock bottom” isn’t always the end. You can always pick yourself up. And this is what she did. She gave up her big salary, but is happier in life. Her decision to stop drinking and to find her own passion made her a better person and a better mom.
I don’t know whether or not these young people know exactly what it is they want to do with the rest of their lives. But that isn’t the important piece right now. What is important is that they know how to get there. Listening to the role models, many with similar backgrounds as these students, gives these young people hope and encouragement. Camp Discovery is giving these young people the opportunity to discover themselves. What a great program idea and, more importantly, a great execution of the true intent.