Motivational speaker and author Rodney J. Walker, whose life experiences include residing in 12 foster homes on Chicago’s south side and graduating from Yale, brings his story of perseverance and success to the Junior/Senior High School next week.
The highlight of Mr. Walker’s visit Thursday (Sept. 19) is a talk before an all-school assembly of 7th through 12th graders. Earlier in the day, he will have lunch with faculty and speak to students in the Entrepreneur class, taught by John Lindsay.
His life’s story was captured in his 2016 book A New Day One: Trauma, Grace, and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale.
His appearance is the inaugural event in the Kadens Family Leadership Series, which Pete (’96) and Amy (Robbins) Kadens (’99) established last year with a donation to the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation.
“The students at Ottawa Hills may or may not have the chance to get out and see the world, so we decided to bring the world to them in the form of a diverse group of speakers and experiences that students can leverage to broaden their horizons and satisfy their insatiable curiosity,” Mr. Kadens said.
Mr. Kadens offered the name of Mr. Walker as a speaker to district leadership, who agreed that his story was one worth sharing.
“Rodney is an amazing story of overcoming incredibly long odds through persistence, forward thinking, and unwavering emotional stability,” Mr. Kadens said. “His rags-to-riches story will inspire anyone to work a little harder, think a little more positively, and to persevere during challenging times in life.”
“We are excited to hear Mr. Walker’s story and to have him meet our students and faculty,” said Ben McMurray, principal of the Junior/Senior High School. “He is an excellent choice to inaugurate the Kadens Family Leadership Series.”
The Leadership Series is designed to educate K-12 students on a broad range of topics – from poverty and veterans’ issues to leadership conundrums – will only make them better and more productive members of society as they leave and pursue their dreams, Mr. Kadens said. “We want to engender leadership and a moral imperative in our students to go out into the world and do high-impact work, and this is one way to accomplish that,” Mr. Kadens added.
About Rodney Walker:
Rodney Walker, a Chicago native, is an author, educator, and inspirational speaker who holds a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s degree from Yale University.
He is the founder of Forever Life Productions. Along with his production company, he travels nationally and internationally, speaking at public schools, corporations, and conferences about the importance of education, entrepreneurship education, mentoring at-risk youth, and corporate philanthropy in uplifting and supporting at-risk youth.
Visit his website
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