Livingstone College

Speakers talk on point with Bridge students

What does a legislative speech writer, an IT business analyst, and a media group CEO have in common?

Here’s a hint: They are all motivational speakers.

What they also share in common is that they have all spoken before Livingstone College’s bridge students this summer, sharing their own stories of triumph and inspiration.

Bridge students are those participating in the college’s summer Bridge Program, which prepares students for college enrollment by giving them a second chance at academic excellence. Upon completion, students are admitted into Livingstone in the fall as provisional students.

Believe in the I’MPossible
Keith L. Brown, the speech writer, is best known as Mr. I’m Possible. He kicked off the Bridge Program orientation – and rightly so.

Using upbeat music, chants and dancing, Brown captivated the audience with his sense of humor and relatability. As a young child, he was labeled as an at-risk special education student. Today, he is an author and developed a curriculum titled, “not impossible-I’M POSSIBLE: A Relevant Guide on Leadership and Life Skills for Students and Families,” which is being read and studied nationally and globally.

He has been named one of the top speakers and consultants in education by “Insight Publishing” and International Speakers Network.

After getting peer mentors and faculty on stage to do the Cupid Shuffle, a popular line dance, Brown engaged the audience, made up also of Upward Bound students, with a speech sprinkled with memorable quotes and catchphrases, such as:

  • Anybody can be a student, it takes effort to be a scholar;
  • The way you dress is the way you will be addressed;
  • I’m a prospect, not a suspect;
  • The company you keep will determine the levels you reach;
  • Those who laugh at you today will pay you tomorrow;
  • Dwell where you are celebrated, not tolerated;
  • A bus pass will keep you local; a passport will take you globally;
  • We need more reading over ringtones and more textbooks over text messages;
  • Television is “telling a vision” it wants you to see, but it’s not real; and
  • In order to change your situation, you must say: I love myself, I believe in myself, I’m proud of myself, I’m a genius. 

Brown told the students to start seeing themselves as who they want to be. For example, if you want to become a lawyer or a doctor, start referring to yourself as one. “Name it, claim it, frame it,” he said.

His son, for instance, wants to become a lawyer, so he refers to his son as Attorney Brown. “When someone asks you what you want to be, respond by saying, ‘I am,’” he said.

“You have two options,” he told the students. “Either you’re going to make it or you’re going to make it.”

Lessons Learned
Jeevan Brown, a business analyst and journalist, was the program’s second speaker during orientation.
He is the author of “A Lesson Learned,” which features 16 true college stories designed to help young adults and college students navigate through the pitfalls of college life.

A Landover, Md., native, Brown told his own story about how his GPA was a 2.29 in high school and that he attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte because it was the only school that accepted him.

He took advantage of opportunities in college and started working with the bi-weekly campus newspaper. One of his professors noticed he had a knack for engaging readers and quickly propelled him to feature editor of the paper.
While still a student, he worked as a feature writer for and was a correspondent for the Charlotte Bobcats NBA team. After graduation, he started writing for “OZONE Magazine” and interviewed several hip hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and The Underground Kings.

He encouraged students to write down their goals with timelines, and to make vision boards.

“If you want to kill your big dream, tell it to a small-minded person,” he said.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, he outlined highlights of the book including a chapter on achieving while grieving that tells the story of his best friend who died while he was in college; a chapter on HIGHway patrol about a friend who was smoking marijuana on the highway and got pulled over by a cop; and chapters on time management, focus and finance.

He gave students a quiz on the information using the app and gave out prizes, as well as giving each student an autographed copy of his book.

“Don’t be influenced by your peers or music,” he said. “Watch the company that you keep. Don’t rush to be in a relationship. Stay focused.”

According to the Journal of Media, one of the biggest distractions for students is using digital devices in the classroom for non-classroom purposes.

“Elevation requires alienation,” he said. “Cut off distractions.”

Brown interviewed Livingstone’s police chief, Gloria Blaire, during the program, in which she talked about protocols students should follow if pulled over by an officer. “Don’t give them a reason to be hostile. Be courteous, watch your tone and voice level and make no sudden moves,” she said.

He also brought with him a special guest, Jamie Miller of Pageland, S.C., who owns 518 Media Group. Miller said she always wanted to own her own business, but a guidance counselor encouraged her to be an administrative assistant instead.

She followed her own heart and though financially challenged, she and her family managed to raise enough money to send her to college. Before her sophomore year, her father died of lung cancer and she considered dropping out of college to help her mother, but she resolved to continue.

After college, she landed a corporate job making good money, but a client made a racially insensitive comment about her hair. She eventually quit and started her own media group company. Her first project was the album release party of R&B’s Fantasia in 2014.

“Allow the mistakes others make to be the blueprint for what you shouldn’t do,” she said.

In addition to academics, the Bridge Program, which was started by President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, Sr. in 2006, also places a strong focus on attitude and behavior in preparing students for college life. For more information about the program, call (704) 216-6874.

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