Can't Stop, Won't Stop!
That's the motto I live by. Success is impossible to attain without role models, mentors, and self- motivation. I am a successful teenager because I do my best, set goals, challenge myself daily, and vow to never give up. Success is defined as the accomplishment of one's goals, the attainment of wealth, and positions of honor. However, I disagree. While those accolades are commendable, I believe success is best measured by overcoming small failures one encounters along the way. Success can be failure turned inside out. Nothing beats a failure but a try. This is why I affirm every day the notion of Can't Stop, Won't Stop. These words propel me forward toward my goals with every failure or bump in the road I encounter. Success in life occurs when one refuses to give up and obstacles only act as motivation. These simple words allow me to rise and shine in my community, at school, and in the future.
"Mentors, teachers, and parents are the backbone of any success story - to think that one could do it alone is a disservice to oneself and society."
I attend St. John's University Honors College, and hold a 4.0 GPA. Recently, I was awarded the Dean's Distinguished Honors Scholars for freshman maintaining a 3.95+ GPA. I was chosen; 1 of 19 freshman students to take higher honors accounting and management courses. My future goals are to obtain a business degree, go on to law school, and practice as a corporate attorney. After graduation from law school, I plan to mentor middle-school and high-school students on the importance of staying on the right side of the law and encouraging them to pursue their dreams. Mentors, teachers, and parents are the backbone of any success story - to think that one could do it alone is a disservice to oneself and society. I am confident that when students see how I became a success, they will adopt and affirm the notion of Can't Stop, Won't Stop. My goal is to teach them the principle by which I live by. With this motto in their arsenal, they will be a success and be able to face all obstacles in their way. I am who I am because of those simple words that tell me to keep going no matter what the obstacle - I never let someone or any situation discourage me.
"It forced me to come out of myself and enter into "their' world - a world of silence that seemed foreign to me. At first it seemed strange, but then I understood."
Deaf Can Do It! Such is the motto of the deaf school in which I had the distinct honor of volunteering. I spent 15 months and 769 hours executing an Eagle Scout Service Project for St. Christopher's School for the Deaf located in Brown's Town, Jamaica. I toured its sparse library and could not believe my eyes. I had more books in my bedroom than they had in their entire library. The library serves 60-100 deaf children. My plan was to raise awareness and ship at least one barrel of school supplies and children's books to the school. I wondered if I could accomplish my ambitious goal - what seemed, visually, to be an insurmountable task. Despite naysayers, I successfully led a car wash/ bake sale and raised $3,150.00 and shipped seven barrels of donated books, school supplies, toiletries, sign-language books, CD/DVDs, flashcards, solar flashlights, paint/paint supplies, garden tools, and a Dell laptop to the school. Seven shipping barrels were donated from various businesses. It is amazing how people's hearts opened up as they were made aware of the needs of deaf children in Jamaica. The Baldwin and Rockville Centre Herald and Long Island Newsday covered the story. Councilman Sweeney wrote me an encouraging congratulatory letter. I was glad to see that I effected change, leveled the playing field, and raised awareness of the needs of Jamaica's deaf children.
The principal, Mrs. Harris, contracted meningitis after completing her master's degree in teaching. As a result, she is now hard of hearing. I found it most challenging trying to effectively communicate with the deaf population. I had to learn to speak at a lower tone because I discovered that the deepness of my male voice somehow "affected" the principal's ears when I spoke to her. When I interacted with the children, I found myself using a lot of hand gestures when a sign-language interpreter was not available. Suddenly, I was impaired as well. I found it difficult to communicate. It forced me to come out of myself and enter into "their" world - a world of silence that seemed foreign to me. At first it seemed strange, but then I understood. I was fortunate enough to be invited by the school's principal to the school's graduation ceremony. It blew me away to see the children perform a complex dance routine by sensing the vibrations of the music on stage. My mouth hung open in amazement. We clapped in excitement to encourage them, not realizing that they could not "hear" us. Instead of clapping loudly, we were told to put our hands in the air and shake them vigorously so that the children could "see" our appreciation. I developed a new sense of gratitude. A mind-opener, indeed! I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that I made a difference in deaf children's lives.
I learned that one person could effect change....if you really want to. All you have to do is believe in yourself and try. Upon return to New York, I received an email containing a picture of the children in their restored library holding their favorite books, a "thank you" poster, and the children "signed" thank you. I told them how they changed my life and that I would keep that picture at my desk to encourage me as I study. As you enter the school grounds, the very first image before you is a sign - Welcome St. Christopher's School for the Deaf. "Deaf Can Do It!" That is the motto they are taught. They are taught to be self-motivated and limitless. I came away encouraged, with a renewed spirit to face the challenges ahead. Can't Stop, Won't Stop is the motto I live by.
- Colin R.