And finally, I may have learned the most from Genarlow Wilson. This young man, as a teen, met with a major obstacle that could have sent his life spiraling downward. Instead, he accepted an opportunity afforded to him by our foundation, and more specifically, my son Thomas Jr., president of the Tom Joyner Foundation. Thomas Jr. worked hard to find a college willing to give Genarlow a second chance, and when he was finally accepted to Morehouse University, my son walked him through the entire process.
Genarlow was hoping to get his diploma last week, and I was excited and proud to be one of the speakers at the commencement ceremony. But, as life would have it, personal and academic challenges arose. Like thousands of other college seniors, Genarlow was short of the number of credits necessary to graduate with his class. And like the Morehouse Man that institution groomed him to become, he accepted the responsibility for his setback.
Even though he was disappointed, Genarlow has vowed to do what it takes to finish his courses and be part of next year’s graduating class. He says he wouldn’t dream of throwing away his opportunity to become a college graduate because of the speed bump that has slowed him down. He says he’ll keep moving forward because he, more than most, understands that second chances don’t come around that often. I know he’ll make it, and I’ll be there at Morehouse next year cheering when he finally gets that diploma. Like Genarlow, I get all too well how much sweeter a victory is when you’ve really had to work hard for it.
If you have an opportunity to offer a second chance to someone in your school, on your job or in your life, do it. It’s the best gift you can give. And it’s recyclable, too!