Mawi speaks to Palatine High School students

Jane Spencer, News Editor

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Mawi Asgedom spoke to students at Palatine High School on Thursday, Jan 24. Asgedom is a motivational speaker and author of eight books, including his autobiography “Of Beetles and Angels.”

“You have the power that comes from how you think and act,” Asgedom said.

“It’s important for Mawi to speak to us because he will help students and teachers access inner motivation,” counselor Judy Locher said.

Locher met Mawi at the Illinois School Counselor conference and, since then, has been inspired by his work. Locher was a large part of getting Asgedom to speak here.

“Every single student in Palatine High School has a story,” Asgedom said. “I am here to help them with their story. I am going to be thinking what are all of the things I can say to help the students.”

Asgedom was born in Ethiopia which he later fled due to civil war. He fled to Sudan where he lived for three years in a refugee camp. Asgedom then moved to the United States where he overcame obstacles and later went to Harvard University.

“Growth is possible for every student and that is important to remember,” Asgedom said. “Focus on your own growth, on things you can control. Every person should measure their success based off of their own growth. No one should compare themselves to you and you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else.”

Since graduating Asgedom has written eight books and traveled across the world speaking to many different audiences. He speaks with the goal of motivating and showing people that they can achieve anything, despite barriers they may face.

“I’d say the most important part of my story for students to hear is this idea that everyone has a turbo button,” Asgedom said.

“Turbo button” is the metaphor Asgedom uses to convey that everyone is capable of doing anything and all they need to do is access it within themselves. Once a person hits their “button” they will be able to accomplish things they didn’t know were possible. If a person doesn’t, no change will happen in their lives.

“Hitting that turbo button means you focus on the things you can control, you don’t worry about the things you can’t,” Asgedom said. “You constantly work on those things you can.”

“What he said was really inspiring because he went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs,” Freshman Ellise Condon said. “He showed me anybody can achieve anything if they just put in the work for it.”

“The things that Mawi said really inspired me to work harder in school and get better at the things that I love to do,” Emily Cooper, a freshman, said. “His technique for improving, by focusing on the tasks you don’t know how to do, really gave me a new perspective and made me feel inspired.”

“Failure is when you do nothing to grow,” Asgedom said as parting advice.