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This week approximately 150 freshmen from all four RISD high schools attended a special seminar held at the University of Texas at Dallas campus designed to help them understand the opportunities currently in front of them as they begin their secondary education in earnest. These “students of promise” were chosen by faculty or staff members based on their potential to be successful in college and beyond.

The students heard from four very successful panelists, all of whom shared advice, words of caution, often-blunt motivation and inspiration.

“You can be great, or you can be average,” said Arthur George, Senior Vice President, Analog Engineering Operations for Texas Instruments. The choice to pursue greatness is a choice only you can make. Making no choice is the same as choosing to be average.”  

The program, named The Compelling Why – Seminars for Students of Promise by founder and president Torrence H. Robinson, aims to inspire and motivate through successful, real-world role models and honest, open dialogue. “I see myself in so many of today’s students,” said Robinson, whose day job is Director of Education/Workforce for Texas Instruments. “It’s critical that young people see and hear from successful professionals who have sat where they’re sitting, and help them understand that the journey from high school freshman to successful professional is not farfetched, but requires engagement in school and a conscious decision to take advantage of what education is offering them.”

“The seeds you plant now will bear fruit the rest of your life,” said panelist Carl Dorvil, President and CEO of Group Excellence. “Developing an ethic of hard work now will lay the groundwork for a successful, rewarding life. Deciding to be lazy now is setting yourself up for failure.”

“Take advantage of what high school has to offer you now to develop your skills, because it doesn’t get easier once you’re in the workforce,” urged Michael Pegues, an attorney with Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP. “You have teachers and people available to you now who care about you and can help you on your path. Be smart. Engage them. Learn from them. Because once you’re out of school, those opportunities are gone.”

Following the panel, which included a robust question and answer session, students learned more about engagement and enrichment opportunities available at their schools. After lunch, the day concluded with an informational session from UTD about college life and expectations.

The Compelling Why is sponsored by Southern Methodist University, UT Dallas, AMS Pictures, Haynes Boone, LLP, and is partnered with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas, Education is Freedom, Girls Inc., Group Excellence and Urban League of Greater Dallas.

Original article from School Times Now, Richardson Independent School District, Friday, October 8, 2010.


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