Everytime I think I’m going to inspire someone, I get inspired myself.
My latest inspiration came in an unexpected form: 50 high school students. These students are a part of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s amazing program called CHASE Your Dreams, which is a six-week summer internship dedicated to helping give healthcare learning opportunities to high school students from underserved Chicago public high schools.
We learned about this program last summer and fell in love with its purpose, as it aligns so perfectly with Medix and our cause of 20,000 Kids. I decided to donate proceeds from my book, Won With Purpose, to the program, and Medix’s philanthropy team locked arms with Lurie’s in hopes to impact some lives.
Fast forward to last week. A group of Medix teammates and I had the opportunity to go to Lurie Children’s to host a workshop on professionalism for this program. I had no idea what to expect, talking to these high school-aged kids. I’ll admit I was a little nervous! My oldest is in high school, and I’ve spoken to other high school students before; typically, they can’t wait for you to quit talking! These interns were different.
My teammates and I walked in the room, and we were greeted with big smiles, eye contact and warm hellos. I felt welcomed, at ease and excited to talk to them! I felt an instant connection to everyone in the room. We started joking, laughing and somehow it led to me calling on a talented student to get up and sing for us before kicking off. (Tiegist, you have such an amazing voice! Thank you for sharing it with us in the room!)
I knew I couldn’t compete with Tiegist, but after everyone settled in, I dug into my quick speech anyway. As the son of Greek immigrants who did not speak a word of English upon arriving to the United States, I had a suspicion there would be kids there who could relate to me, so I started by sharing that story and some family pictures. Eyes lit up across the room of other immigrants and first generation Americans. (There’s something special about meeting someone who understands you and your story because they lived it too.) The main part of the talk was five principles I live by: self reflection, balance, true self confidence, genuine humility and interest in finding the right answer, not just being right.
The second I finished, hands shot up across the room with questions from how I got to where I am to what advice I had for staying true to their home cultures. I was in awe. These students are so intelligent and thoughtful!
It was then my teammates’ turn. They broke up the group to five groups of 10 kids, teaching everything from professional dress to resume writing to social media. I then got to speak a little more with the program leaders and volunteers, as well as watch the students engage with and learn from my teammates.
Afterward, the team and I hung back for a little bit. So many students came up to me to share about their lives. I walked away so inspired by the leaders, the volunteers and the students themselves.
Program leaders Maria and LaDonna are true examples of people who are there for the right reasons. They want nothing more than those kids to succeed. Then there were volunteers who were apart of the program when they were in high school. Now they’re college students (decorated with scholarships) who want to give back.
Then the students themselves. They gave me such a gift last week. The amount of inspiration they gave me is enough fuel for my purpose for a lifetime. I can’t wait to continue Medix’s work with CHASE Your Dreams for years to come so we can hear where these kids go next, work more with Maria and LaDonna, meet more students and create more opportunity to positively impact more lives.