While most Americans are afraid of giving speeches, 17-year-old Jahquar Williams is at home in front of an audience. Fossil Foundation partner, College Summit, has awakened a dynamic orator in Jahquar. As a College Summit Peer Leader, he uses his gift for public speaking to advance the college-going mentality in his school and community and spread optimism to fellow students. A string of personal tragedies could have easily thwarted Jahquar’s future, but today, his prospects are limitless. People like Jahquar are the life-force of Fossil Foundation, and we wanted to know more about this remarkable young man.
My name is Jahquar Williams
I’m from Brooklyn, NY
When I was 8 years old I wanted to become a firefighter.
A piece of advice I would give my 8-year-old self would be: it’s okay to cry and feel the pain I had because that has made a fire within myself to make me the young man I am.
I have many ideas of what I’d like to become but becoming a motivational speaker is a great idea at this moment in my life.
I am really comfortable speaking in front of people and getting my message to them in a way that they will never forget. I also feel comfortable expressing my dreams and ambitions because there may be someone who wants to do the same.
Words that I live by are: “A hand that is willing to help is willing to share.” To me, this means that there is somebody to help everyone.
I got involved in College Summit by doing a peer-led workshop this past summer at Amherst College. Being a part of College Summit gives me a great feeling to be in more leadership roles. All kids in my school come to me and ask how can they find a school or how can they get to the S.A.T., etc. That is another way to keep me going in school.
I would tell kids who were in my place before I got involved with College Summit just keep working hard for what you want because you never know when you may get a shot to do something that may come only once.
Being a leader is not something you just do, it’s being that person people need to cry to, talk to or hang with. I use the strength and leadership skills I have acquired to keep on doing the work I do to push things to the next level. I take my lessons with me through every new experience.
The most important thing that I have learned from my peers would be if you need help don’t be afraid to ask someone for it.
One thing I still need to work on is keeping the right mindset when a lot of things are happening and not lose control of what my dream is.
The best thing for me to recharge is to get my headphones and listen to music. After I play my music I close my eyes and go into my own space.
My great grandmother is my backbone and the family backbone as well. She showed me how to cook, clean, and keep my head in my books.
A person who I look up to [Motivational speaker] Eric Thomas because he has inspired me to do all that I can do with my head up high.
Eric Thomas says “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you’ll be successful.”
I say, “Strength is not just a word. It’s also an act of power and willing to push to make it to the end.”
I want to change the world by helping people to understand that the only way to get to your dreams is by working for it, to show them the energy they put into buying all the things, clothes and shoes—put some of that to school work or hobbies that can help them get to the next level.
I have discovered that my voice is bigger than I thought.