BALTIMORE — Imparting knowledge, wisdom and understanding into the minds of teenagers is an ongoing mission and all in a day’s work for Maryland Delegate Antonio Hayes (D-District 40), who engaged 100 students from Randallstown High School in a career-focused dialogue as part of the school’s monthly speaker series on December 21, 2016.
Imani Estrada, a 12th grade student at the Baltimore County School says she has attended about 10 speaking events since her freshman year. Motivated to excel in her academics, social life and to pursue a career in biology and medicine, Estrada says she is grateful for the experiences she has gained since attending Randallstown High.
The purpose of the monthly speaker series is to highlight positive student behavior and transform a favorable thought process in others. According to Mike Thompson, coordinator for the Positive Behavior Intervention Support program at Randallstown High School, speakers are strategically identified and selected to interact with the students.
Senator Bobby Zirkin (D-District 11), Farajii Muhammad, radio show host for Morgan’s State University’s WEAA FM, are among the local entrepreneurs and notables who’ve participated in the series.
Delegate Hayes, 39, shared personal accounts about being raised by his grandmother in West Baltimore. The Frostburg State University alumni is now shepherding a piece of legislation to secure healthy vending machines in schools.
“Being an elected official is about service, not about the pay,” said Hayes, who disclosed that $45,000 was the average annual salary for his role as an elected official.
Hayes also discussed topics from college preparation, overcoming adversity and peer pressure to keeping up with the latest fashion trends and technological advances.
“You may not have everything you want, but make the best of what you have,” he said.
Tywon Cox, an 11th grader has attended the speaker series since his freshman year and believes the program has been beneficial to his academic progress.
“The speaker series has inspired me to make positive changes in my academics and social life, too,” said Cox, who struggled through middle school but now has aspirations to attend North Carolina A&T, Clark Atlanta University or New York University after graduation. “Starting off rough doesn’t mean you have to stay there.”
Cox was able to relate to the speakers’ personal testimonies and he believes students at other schools would benefit from a speaker series as well.
“It’s [never] too late to make a change for the better,” he said.