Stedman Graham speaks at Metea Valley High School
By Jane Donahue For The Sun February 21, 2013 3:34PM
Author, educator and motivational speaker Stedman Graham paid a visit to Metea Valley High School on Thursday. | Jane Donahue/For Sun-Times Media/Naperville Sun 20130221 Thursday, Aurora
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:27AM
There are 24 hours in a day. How are you going to use yours?
That was just one of the many questions posed to students at Metea Valley High School on Thursday by New York Times best-selling author, educator and motivational speaker Stedman Graham.
“Your job is that you have to be strong in the 24 hours that you have every single day,” he told students. “How do you become strong? You have to learn. You have to be learners.”
Assistant Principal Joy Ross said they were excited to spend an “inspiration day with him.”
“Mr. Graham’s thoughtful approach to intentionally discovering, learning and applying best practice principles to identifying an identity of success will resonate with our students,” Ross said.
Graham presented portions of his book “Identity: Your Passport to Success” to the Metea Valley community as part of their Black History Month celebration. During the hourlong presentation, he told stories, asked questions and kept more than 700 students engaged.
“The challenge is to change the way you think so you can be a leader, so you can create whatever you want in your life, (and) not have to worry about someone telling you you can’t,” Graham said.
The event was made possible through the support of Aurora Alderwoman Scheketa Hart-Burns.
“These students need to know the passport to success, and they need to know who they are,” said Hart-Burns, who bought 200 copies of “Identity: Your Passport to Success” for Metea students. “This was important to me. Their identity makes a difference in the world.”
Students, like Enrique Rodriguez, 17, read the book before Graham’s visit.
“I think the book was awesome and is something everyone can relate to,” said Rodriguez, a senior. “Many people deal with problems as far as finding our own identity — we get influenced by so many things in the outside world — and we really need to worry about ourselves and our own future.”
The 17-year-old said he enjoyed the opportunity to see Graham.
“After reading the book, it was a lot of fun to see him in action,” the teen said. “His story and how he dealt with his struggles is really motivating.”
After a lunch that included musical performances by Metea’s choir and wind ensemble, Graham met with smaller groups of students throughout the afternoon.
His best advice? “You’re not a failure when you fall down, you’re a failure when you don’t get back up.”
Principal Jim Schmid said that Graham’s visit was a great learning opportunity for students.
“It is so nice to listen to someone who is a great motivator and really a true mentor for all kids,” he said. “His message was for everyone, about perseverance and love, and ensuring that people have a plan and really work that plan.”
I am really thankful to Scheketa Hart-Burns who made it possible with her support. I am glad we were able to involve so many kids.”