When I was invited to speak to Ms. Eich’s 1st period class at University High School in West LA, I said yes and felt very excited.
However as the date approached, my nerves kicked in. More than usual. I’ve spoken to groups before but for some reason this time felt different. This was the youngest audience. High Schoolers. AHHHHHH! I remember what I was like in high school and that is probably why I was scared. When we had visitors come to speak to our classes, I usually groaned/put my hood on and tried to sleep/rolled my eyes. (Based on that last sentence, I am sure you are thinking: a.)what a brat and b.) how did this girl get into college? I swear, I’m not that bad.)
Anyway, so there I was prepping my powerpoint (So professional!) with information about synovial sarcoma, my story, paratriathlon, pictures, and info about CAF. I enjoyed preparing for this talk because it forced me to think about presenting my story in a different way. I’ve spoken to adults and spoke to medical professionals, but speaking to a younger audience is different. Most of the students were the age I was when I was diagnosed. I also wanted to make sure I engaged them and that I wasn’t just some boring presenter (with one foot) in the first class of the day. So I arranged my entire presentation around one thing- SETTING GOALS.
The gist of it was- if you set goals and then make sacrifices for these goals, you can achieve them. I talked about the initial goal of making it to the first day of senior year, learning to walk again and getting into UC Davis and then to more recent goals like finishing a triathlon and racing at Worlds.
Of course, I had to get up the morning of the presentation to train (it never ends!). Then I hit traffic getting to the high school (I’ve lived in LA for how long and am still surprised by traffic on Santa Monica Blvd?), so I’m panicking AND can’t find the classroom.
When I finally arrived and began presenting, I started to respect my friends that are teachers a whole lot more. Some of the students were REALLY interested- asking questions and paying attention. But others, well, they were texting, listening to music and my favorite, taking naps. Guess you can’t win them all!
Overall, the presentation went really well. I asked a lot of questions during the presentation and I think that went over well. I hope that it encouraged a lot of the students to look at their passions/dreams and set goals for themselves. I felt very honored to be invited to speak to this group and am hoping I can do it again!