Mon, Jun 25, 2018

Clendenin, WV News - The Country Times - The Sunshine Paper Clendenin - Newspaper Clendenin, WVGrowing up was hard for our family. There was five of us, and I was the baby and poor was an understatement of exactly how rough we had it. My dad was hurt in an accident when I was only a few months old and we had to survive on the small amount of disability he received. Mom couldn’t work because her hands were full trying to take care of all of us. We never had nice clothes to wear, only clothes people who felt sorry for us and handed down. Most of the clothes were always wore out, too small or too big, but we made do. One thing I can remember was mom always kept them clean. We might’ve looked poor, but we were clean. Regardless of how poor we were we seemed to have many friends. By the time I got to High School all my siblings had graduated, got married, or dropped out of school. I was the only one left at home and it seemed things finally was better than it had ever been, but even with that said, we were still very poor.

My junior year I overheard two of my teachers talking about me. I had left my book in class and was going back to get it, when I heard my name mentioned. I stopped outside the door out of their sight and heard one of them say it was such a shame I’d never make anything of myself, just like my siblings even though I was very intelligent. They said with my poor upbringing I didn’t have a chance to do anything other than follow in my family footsteps. I was crushed. I went home that night and didn’t say anything to anyone of what I heard, because they were right. That was the day that changed my life forever. I graduated with honors the next year, third in my class and didn’t know where my life would turn to, but I knew I had to prove those two teachers wrong. All my siblings had gotten married, and was working meaningless jobs, and living day by day. One night lying in bed I got thinking how I grew up, how my siblings were living now, and how I never wanted my children to go through what I had went through growing up and that conversation of my two teachers come flooding back.

My Aunt lived in Arizona and she was very wealthy. She was always my favorite and I was hers. Without my parent’s knowledge I contacted her, and we conspired a plan. She called my parents and said her health wasn’t too good and could I come down for a few months and help her out. Even though I was 18, my parents were very overprotective. The next week my aunt sent me a ticket and I flew out there for what was supposed to be a few months turned out to be 4-years. I earned a degree in business and with my aunts help started my own online company. I would fly back and fourth the four years I was gone, but made my parents swear to secrecy. Not even my siblings were aware of what I was doing. One year after I earned my degree I was a Multimillionaire. My parent was living in a nice home by now, compliments of my new company and a fund set up where they never had to worry about bills, groceries, or anything else the rest of their lives. One of my visits back home I went to the high school I graduated from five years prior.

As I walked down the halls I had bittersweet memories of my friends, the years of poverty I suffered through, and more. I walked down the hall and waited until the class bell rang to dismiss the students for the day. As the students exited the class I saw the teacher at his desk. Another teacher from across the Hall entered the classroom as the last student was leaving. I entered with my thousand-dollar pantsuit and stood there looking at the two that hadn’t changed a bit. They looked up and asked could they help me. I walked over and reached my hand out to shake theirs. After I shook them both I thanked them for opening my eyes. They looked puzzled. I explained who I were, and you could see the dismay in their faces. I explained the conversation I overheard and if it wasn’t for that, they probably would’ve been correct in their assessment of my future.

I went on to tell them I had started my own company and it was already a multimillion dollar business. They apologized for the conversation I overheard, but I explained even though it was a conversation that never should have happened in hearing distance of a student, it was one that changed my life. If I hadn’t heard the hard truth I might have turned out like they predicted. I went on to speak at graduations to encourage everyone that there are opportunities for everyone. I also encouraged ones that couldn’t afford college to seek grants and other financial help, it’s there for the ones determined to make something of themselves. What you make of yourself is up to you and how determined you are. I’m not going to lie, it was hard work and long days and nights, but worth every bit of it. You are what you make of yourself, by doing nothing, you will be nothing.

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