Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brandon Stallings...STILL doing great things!

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you one of MY mentees...Mr. Brandon J. Stallings.  Brandon is a 2009 honors graduate of Lithonia High School.  He was the senior class president and graduated with a 3.95 GPA while taking AP classes.  He comes from a good home in which both his mother and his father raised him.  In this picture above he is sitting in his room on top of the hundreds of college information letters and acceptance letters.  He is now a sophomore at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where he continues to excel.  During his graduation speech/address to his high school graduating class, he stated something like, "Most of us in the graduating class have had the pleasure of having a mentor to help us throughout our high school career.  I have been fortunate to have 5 of them, Mrs. Natasha Rachell, Mrs. Katrina Stanfield, Mr. Rodney Stanley, Mr. Brandon Thompson, and Mr. Ken Henderson."  He publicly thanked us...not only in front of his graduating peers, but in front of an audience of almost 10,000 people in the church facility.    What an honor to be publicly validated for what we do on a daily basis.

Brandon rose above his peers and his community to separate himself to move towards excellence.  He took advantage of the education that was made available to him and made the decision to be present and an active part of his learning on a daily basis.  He NEVER settled for mediocrity.  He ALWAYS sought to be better than the next person.  HE is the reason that teachers enjoy teaching....because he has a desire to learn and to motivate the person sitting next to him to do the same thing.  It is because of his astonishing personality, leadership abilities, and the ability to charm a crowd, that I invited him to return to the school at the completion of his freshman year to address the class of 2010 and give them their "charge" as they were preparing to go out into the world.

Here is some of what he said:

"My name is Brandon Stallings, and I am a PROUND LITHONIA HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNUS from the "fine class of 200-."  I'd like to begin by thanking Mrs. Natasha Rachell for giving me the opportunity to speak at yet another wonderful Lithonia High School Graduation Ceremony.  It will always be a pleasure to come back and speak on behalf of the institution that made me EVERY BIT of the man I am today."

"Looking back at the many "learning experiences, not mistakes," I've had this year in college, I'm a firm believer that success ONLY comes to those who have the resilience to keep getting up when life knocks them off their feet.  I've learned that no one's keeping track of your knockdowns, but everyone notices if you always seem to get back up!"

"My whole point, Class of 2010, is that by getting to this moment, you've already become a product of what, in my opinion, Lithonia High School does better than ANY other school: it teaches you 1) everyone falls, it's a part of life and 2) how to be one of the few who gets back on their feet.  The teachers HERE are unlike any other; they teach life to go along with what's in those textbooks, because your understanding of the former is what really makes the difference."

He closed by stating....

"I challenge you to be incredible, spectacular, and maybe even ground-breaking.  Break away from what is expected, take a job in London, learn to speak not just one, but a couple languages, do some community service in Uganda, plan a Spring Break to Cancun, and trust me when I say be careful with that last one!"

Brandon continues to do great things at Yale and comes back to visit when he can.  I am proud to say that he has just secured a two year internship for the next two summers in Washington DC.  I am so proud of him for being such a great example of what a young African American male can live up to be and what they can accomplish.  He is an example of excellence!  He publicly took the time to thank me for being a part of his life....and now it's my turn....

Brandon,  thank you for being a role model to MY sons and for allowing me to be a part of your life.  My life is better because you are a part of it.  Continue to do great things and strive for excellence!  I know that you can do everything you set your mind to and more!!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment