Diversity speaker a hit at Mac High
And stop saying harmful, hateful things about people, said Hawkins, who travels North America speaking at high schools. Instead, he said, help other people.
“What you give out is what you get back,” he said.
Hawkins, who holds a bachelor’s degree in communication of organization with a minor in psychology, speaks to more than 400,000 students, parents, educators and business people each year. He also has co-authored several books, including “Teen Power” and “GO MAD (Go Out and Make a Difference).” He and his wife run Real Inspiration, an organization that works with educators on improving school climate.
He grew up in a violent part of Los Angeles, the son of a single mother. He credits his success in life to education and leadership.
Mac High leadership students heard Hawkins speak at a conference last fall and booked him to visit their school.
Jack Anderson and Penn Sumner, student body president and vice-president, said they found him inspiring at both events. And they thought students really appreciated his message Wednesday.
That was evidenced by the mob of students, 100 or more, who surrounded Hawkins after his talk. They wanted to shake his hand, have their photo taken or tell him how much his words had meant to them.
“It was a pretty good presentation,” said Gabriel Rojas as he waited his turn. “I liked how he said to respect others.”
His friend Alex Cortes agreed. He was struck by Hawkins’ advice about not comparing yourself to others.
“I see people doing that a lot,” he said. “I think it’s dumb,” he said.
Mac High students were captivated by Hawkins’ one-hour presentation, which mixed humor with serious advice. He related some of the times he has been disrespected, and how he’s learned to let those remarks go.
“Twenty years ago, we would have fought,” he said, explaining the evolution of his reactions. “Twenty years ago, I didn’t know who I was.”
Now he realizes that many put-downs are a cry for help, he said. The name-caller actually feels bad or insecure about himself.
Everybody has problems, he said. The person on whom you take out your pain may be suffering just as much as you are.
“It isn’t easy for anybody,” he said. “Why would you make it harder for them?”
Rather, Hawkins encouraged students to focus on the positive things in their lives.
“You’re amazing ... strong ... smart ... kind,” he told students, listing numerous positive qualities.
“You’re a good person — if you think you are. What you think is what you become.”