The 10-Star Student

The 10-Star Student

During the last 365 days, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to thousands of high school students. These are students from all backgrounds, all income levels, and have all different paths for their ‘post-high school’ experience. However, they all have one thing in common – they can’t wait to get out of high school and see what the ‘next thing’ (college, workforce, or military) has to offer.

Usually, I go into these presentations thinking that I’m going to ‘motivate a student,’ ‘help them with their college experience’ or maybe ‘get them a job with one of the companies I help represent.’ That’s how it goes 10% of the time, but 90% of the time, it ends up like this:

“What’s your purpose in life, Austin?”

“My purpose!?” Like my purpose for how I want to live my life?” I was in disbelief that this 6’6’’ kid asked me this question, but he simply said, “yeah man, what’s your purpose?” (as he starred down at me)

Or the time these two kids had a heated argument about the question I asked them, “What would you do with your life if money didn’t exist?”

The student in the back of the classroom, who I thought wasn’t listening to me during the entire 20-minute presentation, finally perked up with, “What do you mean? I have to have money!”

His friend, who was sitting in front of him, turned around in disbelief and said “nah man, but what if it didn’t exist, you don’t understand what he’s asking!”

I’ve never been a teacher, but for some reason I felt like one in this situation because it was one of those times that I could’ve stepped in and taken over the dialogue, but for some reason I didn’t. What transpired next was incredible, heartfelt, and downright inspirational for someone in my shoes, let alone the rest of the kids in the classroom.

The kid in the back of the classroom raised out of his chair and said, “Man, we go to a 1-star school, a 1-star school! I want to be able to provide for my family so they can go to a 10-star school! I want to be successful so I can provide for my family, and I need money to do that.”

I was speechless. I didn’t know how to react. And that ’10-star student’ starred right back at me, and fired off more questions. “Wait a minute, so how did you wash cars without water? And how much did it cost to start that business? And how quick can you start a business?

Every time I leave a school after presenting, my cup is overflowing with joy and hope. There are gritty students in every ‘1-star school’ in the US, and to hear their passion and energy for change motivates me in a way that leaves me speechless. Every. Single. Time.

Two days ago, I was asked a pretty simple question (not by a student this time), “What motivates you every day when you wake up? The answer is simple now thanks to the ’10-star student,’ I want a better life, I want change, and I want to make a difference. Those things don’t come easy, but they get me out of bed in the morning. Oh yeah, and I know there are lots of 10-star students, just waiting to ask me more questions.


Ps. You never know how your story can make a difference. Never be afraid to share it.

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