|Community Center for 13 Boys & Girls Club members graduating from Madison area schools.
After a delicious meal served up by Jada's Soul Food Catering, Kamal James, a teacher at Toki Middle School gave a keynote speech about the meaning of success. "Success, in my opinion and knowledge, is not a result," James emphasized. "Success is a process. That's why I am successful. I'm successful because every morning I wake up and I go to do something that I want to do. I do something every day about which I am passionate, something I believe in. I'm successful because I exercise and I eat right and I get enough sleep at night. I'm successful because I am part of a successful, loving, caring, responsible marriage. These are things that make me successful."
Probably more than any person in the room that night, James was in a position to know what success is and to choose it. James grew up in a housing project in the Bronx. In spite of a difficult environment, James laid the foundation for being successful. "Step one, set a goal, something you want to become, something you want to do," James emphasized. "It';s important and is one of the earliest stages of becoming successful. Step two, learn."
James set his sights on becoming a stock broker because he saw the lifestyle that the brokers who worked on Wall Street lived. "I worked hard enough in high school so that my grades were good enough, my ACT scores were good enough and I was active in leadership activities," James said. "I got a free college education at Hampton University. At Hampton, I majored in finance. I dedicated myself to learning finance, learning aboutthe stock market. My goal was to graduate from college and become a trader on Wall Street and make lots of money. I pursued that goal actively and I reached that goal. After college, I worked at Goldman Sachs. I was a NASDAQ market maker, which is a fancy word for stock broker. It was a fairly high pressure, high paying, high profile, glorious job."
But James had been open to learning and he wasn';t satisfied. He redefined what success was for him and he actively pursued it. "I decided that my goal -- success for me -- would be to marry my wife," James said. "That's one part of success for me, become a part of a loving, caring, responsible relationship. Another part of success was sharing my gifts with people like you, going to work every single day for the betterment of the community. That was part of success for me."
Success for James became moving to Madison where his wife who now conducts research at the UW Law School and James teaches at Toki. He is happy and he is successful, but successful in a different way than he dreamed about while growing up in the projects in the Bronx, New York.
"Once you determine what success will be for you, believe that it will happen," James admonished the students as he concluded his remarks. "Don't just stand there believing, but assert yourself. Use your tremendous energy. Use your tremendous gifts to achieve that goal. I believe that the world is full of self-fulfilling prophecies. That means that if I think I';m going to be a successful teacher and I work toward that, then I will be a successful teacher. If I think I'm going to be a good husband and I work to be a good husband, I will be a good husband. That is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I say 'I can';t do it, I won't do it. If I say 'I can do it,' I can do it. It is that simple. So believe and assert yourself because whatever you said will be true. You will make it true."
And for the graduates from the Boys & Girls Club, there is still time to define success, learn, believe and attain their goals. A whole lifetime of learning awaits them.
| 2007 Boys & Girls Club Graduation Ceremony and Dinner
Defining real success
By Jonathan Gramling
|At its annual luncheon, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County announced that it will be developing an initiative to provide scholarships to Boys & Girls Club members who attend higher education. While the Boys & Girls Club is a positive place for kids, it also wants to help its members lead positive and productive lives in the future and to recognize achievement. On June 11, the club took a small, but important step in that direction when it hosted its first graduation and dinner ceremony at the Fitchburg|