• 90°

Summer program students learn lessons from speaker

Dr. Craig J. Boykin spoke to Crenshaw County students about the importance of education and peseverance. Journal Photo/Scott McLendon

By: Scott McLendon

The gymnasium at Brantley High School was the backdrop for motivational speaker Craig J. Boykin’s address to elementary students of Crenshaw County.

Boykin’s message of inspiration was laced with humor, providing a platform for connection with his audience of adolescents.

“I repeated twice, was in special education and dropped out,” said Boykin. “I just started thinking about how messed up my life was. So I made a decision that maybe education is important. I went home and went to Job Core and got my GED. After getting my GED I was in the military for four years. When I got out of the military, I was propositioned to go to college. I said ‘no I don’t want to go to college. I’m a special education kid; they don’t go to college.’ They urged me to go to college so I went.”

After completion of his GED, Boykin went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, two master’s degrees and a PhD in adult education. Along with his speaking and educational endeavors, Boykin has authored five books.

“So I dropped out of school and got four college degrees and have written five books. I had a rough life. I don’t know what you guys are going through, if you’re going through things at home. What I can tell you is, as young as you all are education has to be the main focus in your life. If I were your dad, I would urge you to at least put an hour to two hours into reading and doing your homework then you may have time for the XBOX. If you go home and immediately turn the XBOX on, you’re setting yourself up with bad study habits. For those of you who don’t read, I would encourage you to pick up a book and try to read at least 15 minutes a day. That’s going to help your mind expand and grow. If you don’t get anything else out of what I’ve said, I want you to get one thing education can change your life.”

Dr. Boykin admitted to having to leave out bits of his story given the age of the attending audience, but his message was appropriate and relevant to all ages.

“In the beginning I just started doing this to give back. I was speaking in a prison in Montgomery and I just saw the response from the inmates who thought it was motivational. I started coming to events like this and the response kept growing and growing. I did this for seven years before I made a dime. For seven years I was just sewing seeds by speaking and I saw it grow tremendously. I was speaking at two to three places a week. Finally, at my job, they told me I had to make a choice since I had to keep taking off of work.

“After a discussion with my wife, I told her I wanted to do this full time. I don’t normally speak to kids this young. There’s a lot more to my story that I left out because these are kids. I do a lot of speaking at high schools and to educators. I really just wanted to encourage their education here. Some of them are already to the point where they wouldn’t even go back, if they had a choice and we’re talking about 7 and 8 yearolds. This is the future of America saying they don’t like education. One kid here said school has no pizzazz. I really want them to understand that without edu cation their options are limited.”

“I hope the kids will be motivated by this,” said LaFreda Griffin, coordinator of the summer camp. “I hope it encourages them to stay in school and do the best they can. Like Mr. Boykin said, even though he was a special education student, it helps to motivate other kids when they see where he’s come from and where he has evolved to now.”