In 1999 my life was changed and I could never have imagined the impact.
I was a freshman at Robert E. Lee High School. The high school would serve as a holding school for many students transferring to Westside High School the following year. At Lee High School I like many students, had a counselor. One day my counselor said she wanted to introduce me to a program called Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT).
I had never heard of it. Like most freshman I wasn’t interested until she said I could have a chance to take free trips. I thought wow that would be great. I loved to travel and had great opportunities previously thanks to my family.
The counselor said I would have to interview for a spot in the program. A few weeks passed and my interview approached. My little brother lived in Tennessee at the time and sent me a Tennessee Volunteers sweatshirt, he lived near the University of Tennessee and like most basketball fans I was a fan of Pat Summit and her UT teams. On the day of the interview I happened to wear it, because it was cold in the school.
I walked in and introduced myself to the man interviewing me. Little did I know that the man who would interview me would have a tremendous impact on my life. Turns out Eric Lyons, the man who interviewed me, was a graduate of the University of Tennessee and native Tennesseean.
While I’d like to think I was just a great candidate I can’t the favor that God imparted on my life. Mr. Lyons as I still call him has been my mentor for over 16 years.
The LOT program would allow me to break out of my introverted and quiet shell. The LOT program, which is hosted by the National Black MBA Association, provides young African-American, high school students a mentor and professional development.
The trips that the program allotted me were nice, but I’m more grateful for the grooming and lessons it taught me. When measured against my peers I’ve usually been able to be cool under pressure, I’ve been able to understand my impact in situations, and more importantly the program taught me the importance of giving back.
LOT taught me to make an Impact! My mentor Mr. Lyons was very different from most mentors, on birthdays and/ or Christmas he never gave me items that were meaningless. He always gave me items that I could use for years to come. Items like a portfolio to take to interviews, watches to wear with my suits, and ties. I didn’t get it then, but I get it now. The items he provided were to help carry me to the next levels of my life. Mr. Lyons is the reason I made the decision to attend Hampton University intially and he was instrumental in helping me get accepted with scholarship money. That said I am not his only mentor, all of the many other young men he has mentored are all making tremendous strides in our communities and in the board rooms across the world.
Mr. Lyons has always served as a great sound board, an non-judge mental member of my family, and a great role model. I’m thankful for him and the many other mentors I’ve accumulated throughout the years. I learn from them, I’ve prospered because of them, and most importantly I’ve become who I am because of their guidance.
I hope this blog entry encourages someone reading it to make an impact. Start small with the people next to you, in your family, or even in your church or religious houses. Your impact can never be measured, but it surely won’t be forgotten.
This Saturday there will be an opportunity to become a mentor.