Oh! The Places You Can Go!

Over 160 area students participated in the Okaloosa County School District’s first You Can Go! Summit held on September 21st at Striving for Perfection Ministries in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. High school students from Choctawhatchee, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, and Crestview High Schools came together to take a look at their future goals and aspirations and to learn how to get there and make them a reality.

You Can Go! gives the students the inspiration and motivation to know they can go on after high school to pursue their careers, their education, and their dreams,” said Dr. Cheryl Seals, a Curriculum Specialist for the District.  “It gives them the road map that they can move on and be successful.”

Students were asked to dream big, make a plan, and stay focused.  The summit featured two guest speakers which included Jamie Swindell, a successful speaker, coach, trainer, consultant, and entrepreneurs, and Brian Barnes, an Educational Manager for The College Board and a Florida partner whose goal is to educate students on how to be college and career ready. 

Barnes is a former educator, coach, and administrator who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the area of college admission, scholarship, and career-readiness.  He works with educators and administrators and provided the students with options and post-graduation opportunities.

Jamie Swindell is proof you can overcome your fears and circumstances.  Growing up in the tough streets of Philadelphia, he said he witnessed many crimes committed against innocent people.  Those experiences deeply affected him and caused him to develop a tremendous fear of people.  Realizing he felt trapped by the constraints of Corporate America, Swindell eventually resigned from his job as an Electrical Engineer and started his own speaking and training company.  Initially his focus was speaking to high school students to equip them with the tools they need to identify their passion and start their own business.  One of his mottos is, “No price is too great for the privilege of owning yourself.  If you are not willing to pay that price, someone else will!”

“I gave the kids a little bit about my background and then how I started training and developing people and loved that so I started my own company,” said Swindell.  “Now I travel around the world doing what I love.  I tell them they need to be the best they can be, go after what they want and not to be afraid of the opposition that is inevitable.”

Swindell also shared his Five Steps to Freedom with the students:

  1. Find your passion
  2. Follow a mentor
  3. Focus on your plan
  4. Face the fear
  5. Forgive the Haters

“It is not about being college-ready. It is not about being career-ready.  It is about being future ready,” said Cindy Gates, Principal of Choctawhatchee High School.

Students from throughout the school district were taking the summit seriously.

Nikia McKinney, a 10th grader, said she was going “to try harder in school and actually focus.”  She went on to say she was going to try to take classes she really needs versus classes that are just easy.

“One of the things I have learned today is, even though I am Mexican, I can do whatever anybody else can do,” said David Gauch, a 10th grader who plans to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy or become a lawyer after graduation.

“What I have taken away from today is we are all responsible for what we do from here on out and I am taking this very seriously,” said Trevion Anthony, a 10th grader.  Anthony said he is also interested in the U.S. Air Force Academy or would love to get a football scholarship to any D-1 school. 

Iven Rojas, a 10th grader, said he learned it does not matter what race you are or where you are from, you can still go to college and you can still follow your dreams if you work hard. 

“That is what I am going to do,” said Rojas.  “Anybody can do anything they set their minds to!”

Jaylah Lawson, a 9th grader, said she realized after listening to the guest speakers, that no matter what your age, you should start out thinking about college and enrolling in higher classes.

“Whether you are a minority or not, you should always strive for the best of your ability,” said Lawson. 

Special thanks go to Striving for Perfection Ministries, S4P SYNERGY, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority FWB Graduate Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity FWB Graduate Chapter, and Kappa Alpha Psi FWB Alumni Chapter.

For more information on the You Can Go! Summit, please contact Dr. Cheryl Seals at SealsCR@mail.okaloosa.k12.fl.us.