Monfredo: Colin Powell Dazzles the Crowd in Worcester Tech Speech
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Usually, two weeks before students sit down for the state exams, the entire student body and faculty take a field trip to The Hanover Theatre to hear a speaker who has overcome personal adversity to address students about the importance of overcoming obstacles and reaching their personal potentials. Thanks to an anonymous donor the costs for these motivational occasions have been made possible.
As Principal Harrity stated, “Without our donor, these events would not be possible…Such programs are the cornerstone of our school’s effort to address the needs of our students and the challenges that they face as residents of our city. The reforms that have been undertaken in our school give students the vehicle they need to take them to a successful life. This assembly program and our school’s general focus on the importance of student success provide them with this motivation.”
A speaker for the ages
Last week the students had the pleasure of listening to General Colin Powell. For over fifty years, General Colin L. Powell, U. S. Army (Ret.), has devoted his life to public service. Having held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations, General Powell’s deep commitment to democratic values and freedom has been felt throughout the world.
As he acknowledged in his speech he is the son of Jamaican immigrants, was born in Harlem in April of 1937 and was raised in the South Bronx. He was educated in the New York City public schools and after graduating from Morris High School attended the City College of New York (CCNY) where he earned a B.S. in Geology. It was not until he joined the Army ROTC program at CCNY that he discovered his calling and launched his military career. He received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in 1958 and went on to serve in the United States Army for 35 years, rising to the rank of Four-Star General.
General Colin Powell served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for both President George H.W. Bush and for President Bill Clinton, and was not only the youngest officer and first ROTC graduate to ever serve in the position, but also was the first African American to do so. During his time as Chairman he oversaw 28 crises to include the Panama intervention of 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in the victorious 1991 Persian Gulf War. Years later, he was unanimously confirmed by the U. S. Senate as Secretary of State.
His autobiography, My American Journey, was a best seller and has been published in more than a dozen different languages. His second book, It Worked For Me, reveals the lessons that shaped his life and career and was published in May 2012. Colin Powell is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama. They live in McLean, Virginia and have three children and four grandchildren.
Blue Ribbon Awards
This prestigious award was recognized by General Powell and then he went on to mesmerize the audience by talking about his days growing up. He stated that he did not excel or even apply himself academically in school and said, “I wasn’t a particularly a good student.” In college, General Powell joined the JROTC and loved it and it changed his life. His parents wanted him to study engineering but he had other plans and decided on being a soldier. During this period in his life, he excelled in the military and academic pursuits for he achieved excellent grades in his 30s while earning his MBA at George Washington University.
Rules to live by
He told the students that you need to look for something you love to do and that you do well. Go for it for it will give you much satisfaction in life. He spoke about some of his 13 rules of life in a book that he had written entitled: It Worked for Me.
1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
2. Get mad, and then get over it.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4. It can be done!
5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision
7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
8. Check small things.
9. Share credit
10. Remain calm. Be kind
11. Have a vision. Be demanding
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier
General Powell was down to earth with the students and mixed up his talk by giving advice to his young audience for he acknowledged that there were no secrets to success but that the preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. He also told the students that never be afraid to challenge the pros and ask questions. He went on to say that it was important for all of us to give back to the community and make society a better place for everyone.
After leaving the Hanover Theatre General Powell visited Worcester Technical High School, toured the school and then was treated to a lunch prepared by the culinary arts department at the school’s Skyline Bistro restaurant. As one of the students stated, “I think it’s so cool he’s here. I cooked for Colin Powell…I cooked for a general!”
High profile speakers at WTHS
General Powell is one of many high caliber speakers who have come to Worcester via WTHS during the last six years and have inspired students to reach for the “stars” and never give up. Their first speaker six years ago was Elizabeth Murray, who had an Emmy-nominated movie based on her life entitled, “From Homeless to Harvard.
The second year at Hanover was Dr. Ben Carson author of the book, Gifted Hands and who is now a possible Presidential candidate in 2016. Because of his work as a neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has become a lifesaving hero for thousands of people.
Then came Erin Gruwell, a former teacher, who has the distinction of having a movie made about her making a difference in the lives of her students. The movie is entitled, The Freedom Writers. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students’ lives.
Next came Chris Gardner from the Pursuit of Happyness. Author Gardner explained his journey from homeless dad to millionaire stockbroker and it was the basis for his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, and the hit 2006 film of the same name starring Will Smith. His message of never giving up was most inspiring.
Last year the students had the pleasure of listening to Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins, fondly known as “The Three Doctors” who serve as an extraordinary model of leadership for anyone who’s been through any kind of life challenge or major hardship.
As you can see these dynamic speakers all came to our city of Worcester to help motivate our Tech students to greater heights with the financial backing of the anonymous donor. What a great gift WTHS has given their students! Well done!
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