As Melvin and I sat under the Amigos Rancho, he began sharing his greatest hopes and dreams and the obstacles he has overcome to be where he is at it. Time stopped. I no longer heard the buzzing of the fans or saw the shapes of people walking by behind him. Melvin’s story captured my full attention.
Through our Leader in Action Program, each university student goes through a professional development course that our team has developed to provide the skills to land their dream job after graduating college. The peak of this professional development experience is with a mock interview with one of our Amigos team members. I was lucky enough to have Melvin on my list of bright young minds that I interviewed.
During mock interviews, we ask students about specific skills that they’ve acquired during their studies, review their resumes, ask about leadership, strengths, and weakness, and explore their visions they are developing for their futures.
Melvin sat with his arms on the table, and I couldn’t help but notice a small tattoo that he had on his left arm that reads: BE BRAVE. The purpose of our time together was to have this mock interview, but I couldn’t help but redirect the conversation away from what he’s studying and his work to focus on him. So, I shuffled my interview questions aside, and I paused. I asked him what that tattoo means to him, and more importantly, what those words mean to him.
Melvin shared that after graduating from high school, he went through a really hard time. He started to feel a lot of self-doubt, depression, lack of vision and anxiety about not being accepted by the world. He shared that he started college but quickly dropped out because he didn’t have the emotional tools necessary to work through challenges that came his way. He shared that once he met Amigos team members and was accepted into the Leaders in Action Program, he began to see that the world was at his fingertips. He just needed to be brave enough to create the future he knew he deserved. He bravely stepped into the world and chose to do his best, meet his deadlines, and care for those around him. He learned to break the cycle that he was going through by focusing on what he could do, and then he did it.
Melvin, a year into being in Leaders in Action, is a confident 21-year-old man. He is working full-time and going to college on the weekends. He is the eldest of 3 siblings, and he is a mentor for his sister that started college with him and for his 9-year-old brother who studies in the Amigos Academy. He speaks calmly and positively, believing in his place in this world.
When asking Melvin about his hopes beyond graduating college, he shared that his optimism and love for others are pushing him to be a leader. He said, “I know that I have the ability to guide people, and I’ve had to choose to be brave for myself. Now, I can encourage my sister and others to do the same. To be brave.”
Melvin reminded me that it’s hard to know what others are going through. There are so many highs and lows that accompany all of us on our daily journeys, but Melvin’s example of being brave and committing himself to push through in even the hardest of times has made this world a better place.
Melvin, thank you for being brave and for believing in yourself. Your leadership in your community and your dedication to having an optimistic influence on those around you is inspiring. I’m inspired by you. Be brave.