In honor of teacher appreciation week, I wanted to share with you all a moment with one of my teachers, Mr. Rogers, who had a profound impact on my life.
I was 14 years old and I still remember the discussion vividly. It was a discussion that forever changed my perspective of what I could and could not do.
It was the end of my sophomore year and I had been on the student council for two years. He asked me into his office and told me that I did a great job over the past two years and that I should run for Student Activities Director. I remember clearly telling him I couldn’t run, because I was only a sophomore and that I would be a junior next year; all the top positions in Student Leadership were Seniors.
I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, “So?”
I said that I didn’t think any junior had ever held a top position on the student council. Again, he challenged me. I said, “What do you mean – so?, I can’t run.” “Why not?,” he said. “Just because it’s never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I think you’d do great. You should run.” I thought about it all night as I tossed and turned over whether I should break from the norm and run.
The next day I came in and filled out the forms to run for Activities Director. Low and behold, I ran–and I won. It was an amazing experience, knowing that I defied the odds and turned the tide for my felIow classmates who might be encouraged to run next year. I was the first junior to hold a top leadership role at the high school.
At the end of the year, Mr. Rogers called me into his office again and said, “You did a great job this year. What are your plans for next year?” I said I wasn’t sure. He said, “I am – you should run for President. I think you’d be just as great in that role!” I thought about it overnight and came in the next day and filled out the paperwork. I ran and won.
That role laid the groundwork for the person that I would become as an adult. It provided incredible challenges and amazing opportunities to work on my leadership skills. I will always be indebted to Mr. Rogers for how he influenced me as a young man. He taught me to never accept something without first challenging and questioning it. It was this sentiment that has always pushed me to reach for the unreachable.