Sunday, December 30, 2007

Motivational Speaker Comes Back To Jefferson For A Second Go Around

Growing up is tough. Whether it be on the rough side of town in Los Angeles or even the humble suburbs of Jefferson, the years between childhood and adulthood are some of the most trenchant and trying times for teenagers, no matter what area they happen to grow up in.

And that’s why motivational speaker extraordinaire, Keith Hawkins, who’s been traveling to schools across the county for the past 15 years now, has been called in to work his magic at Jefferson High School and Middle School on the 14th and 15th respectively.

“When we get somebody like Keith to come to our school, I know the PTA is doing their job,” says Michelle Cannorozzi, Vice President of Programs for the High School Parent, Teachers, and Student Association, and Program Liaison for the Middle School.

“We really wanted to get more character based [activities] for leading your own life,” says Cannorozzi.

And Mr. Hawkins will be doing just that with his Stepping Up To The Challenge presentation, which he’ll be presenting to the kids when he swings by this year.

“The title might sound the same, but the content is different,” says Mr. Hawkins.

He says the title might sound the same because this actually isn’t his first time talking at the high school and middle school. Five years ago, he actually came by before, teaching the students about how to stay motivated and afloat of the problems that may be plaguing their lives.

“[It’s all about] the challenges they face in regards to education,” Keith says.

And Keith is definitely the right person to do it since he knows all about what it takes to exercise one’s demons.

Growing up on the harsher side of LA in a single parent environment, Keith was a leader even back when he was a child. Unfortunately, it was for the opposite side of society.

It actually wasn’t until he met a motivational speaker of his own named, Phil Boyte, that Keith decided to change his ways and get on track with where he wanted to go with his life.

And fifteen years later, he’s definitely moved on. Having spoken from everywhere to Newark to Columbine after the school shootings, Keith, who originally worked with the motivational group Learning for Living with his mentor before he moved on, has since gone on to become one of the leading speakers to the youth of America.

“I interacted with [the kids of Columbine] as if it were any other school,” says Keith on the experience of handling a tragedy. “While others were treating it as this huge thing, I went there and treated them like regular students.”

And in that way, Keith helped to make them feel normal again and not like the nation’s pariahs, which is always the case when put in the spotlight on a national scale.

“[I want to] get rid of doubt in their lives, and how they deal with fear,” says Keith, with fear being an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real (Keith likes to use acronyms a lot).

The speech on doubts and fears will especially press on an aspect at Jefferson’s school as one of the students last year actually committed suicide.

“There was a death of a student [last] year,” says Cannorozzi, “and Keith asks, ‘Do you want me to touch on it? Do you want me to leave it alone?’”

Keith will of course touch on it and other aspects of the teenagers’ and parents’ existence when he comes by and speaks on the 14th and 15th, (a parent session will also be held at night on the 14th at the high school). That is his job after all—the job of a motivational leader.

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