For all those students graduating high school and college, and for all their parents, here is an inspirational story to remind you that, even when you don’t know what you’re going to do or how you’re going to afford it, your attitude and work ethic will help you reach for the stars.
A few years ago, I was honored to be invited back for the tenth straight year to speak at Florida State University’s New Student Orientation, which involved six weeks of speaking to 6,000 students and 10,000 parents. It’s always awesome to see how the students and parents react to the concept of writing the next chapter of their lives called “The College Experience.”
There was one student whose journey left an impression on me and whose story is worth telling again and again. This young man hadn’t had it easy. His family was dealing with a lot of issues, so much so that he had to drop out of high school and get a job so he could feed himself. Instead of giving up on his education, he bought or borrowed his friends’ textbooks, learning on his own. When the time came for him to take the SAT, he scored high enough to earn a full ride to Florida State.
While the scholarship covered his tuition, it wasn’t going to cover his living expenses or books, so when he arrived on campus, alone and without any parents there to support him, he had no idea how he was going to make it through the next four years. After hearing me speak at his orientation, the young man came up to me, and instead of asking me to sign a book, he handed me his shoe.
He said, “I want you to sign my shoe. That way, every time I’m overwhelmed and I look down, I’ll see my foot and remember that I’m the star of my show, I can write anything I want in the next chapter, and I am Living the Dream.”
This student blew me away. He was bright and hard working, and he was willing to take the chance to come to college even though he didn’t know how he could afford it. Part of Living the Dream is knowing what your dream is, and this young man’s dream was to go to college. He had the passion and persistence to do whatever he could to make that happen.
Remember, passion supersedes natural ability every time — this young man was sharp, but without his passion, he wouldn’t have made it to Florida State.
Next time you’re feeling defeated or unsure, look at your shoes and remember the young man from Florida State University who is figuring out how to Live the Dream one step at a time. You’re the director, so take charge of your show and produce the life you deserve.
As Casey Kasem would say, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”