Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Get a Job Without a Resume

Ever felt frustrated by not being able to get work experience because no one will hire you without having prior experience? Ever try any of these things, like, stuffing your face with marshmallows?....[crickets]...... No? Ok I guess it's just me then......
Go to to get your FREE ebook (releases 8/5/2013)! :D

What to do when you fail a class

From the #AskIsa inbox:

Dear Isa,

I am worried and scared because I think I just failed a class this semester. I know, I shouldn't have failed a class for any reason but it happened. So, I need some advice on what to do now.

I am aware of the impact it will have on my GPA and I know I will have to retake the course. Is there something I can do to not make it look so terrible (when in fact it is) for when I do transfer? This is so strange for me because I've never failed a class..



Dear Failed,

Thank so much for reaching out. I'm so sorry about your failed class - that must be so difficult to deal with. But fear not - failing a class can be overcome.

Below are a few things that I hope will help:

1) Check out The Chatty Professor's blog and book - she shares a lot of content about failing classes and how to talk to professors. 

2) Set an appointment to talk with your professor immediately. Take ownership of why you failed and ask the professor for advice on what you can do differently next time.Try to uncover why this happened and do your best to learn and grow from this experience. 

3) When it comes to transferring, many college (and scholarship) applications give you a small space to explain any special circumstances or discrepancies on your transcript. Use what you learned from your professor and write about how you were able to learn from failure, continue moving towards your goals, and stop it from happening again.

If an application doesn't offer this space, think about how you can incorporate this failure experience into one of the essays. 

The most successful people are often the ones with the most failures. They learned from their mistakes, changed, grew, and kept on going. Your ability to overcome this failure, stop it from happening again, and then become able to communicate it in a positive way will set you up for success in your future college and career journey. 



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to make it in LA: First Job Profile of Pivot Producer

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile features how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today, as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

From my favorite movie, The Help, to my favorite documentary, Waiting for Superman, I'm a huge fan of the work of Participant Media. They use media to tell a story and create awareness that can change the world. And since they're launching a new network just for millennials called Pivot, I thought it'd be great to learn some career tips from the new network's senior producer, Adam:

First Job Profile: Adam Sumner, Senior Producer of Pivot at Participant Media 

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

 My first job out of college was working for a commercial producer in Charleston, SC. I got the job through my video production teacher. 

I was eager to get into the business and sought the first place that might help me, and I guess I got lucky in that my first avenue opened for me. We produced and edited mainly regional commercials, but it was a great first step in the right direction. 

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job? 

I think you have to be eager to learn. You need to bring some practical knowledge with you, but don't act like you know everything, especially in this business. 

There are ways to say things and set etiquette that can only be taught by watching seasoned veterans. The most important thing I learned was listening and watching, but also being eager to act and help. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

I managed to use my previous experience as an assistant producer to get on the documentary crew for the Bonnaroo music festival. I was very persistent to get that job and I think having that little bit of experience helped me land the gig. 

This job would change my life forever and still stands as one of the most incredible events in my life. Everyone on the crew was from New York or LA, and they'd say "where do you live in LA?" ... and I'd respond, "I'm from South Carolina."

I was a little bit out of place you might say, but again I was ready to listen and learn. I made some incredible friends and lasting relationships and from there I got the courage to make the move to LA and give this a real shot. I had nothing to lose. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

As I said above, you have nothing to lose. If you are young and free from serious attachments, shoot for the moon. Go for it. You can always move back in your parents basement. 

You also need to build on personal relationships. Searching the internet for job postings is like a shot in the dark. It really is about who you know - hit the streets, really get eager and annoying for what you really want.


I second all of that!  Great advice - thank you Adam!

Monday, July 22, 2013

5 ways to jumpstart your creativity

I invented the smart phone in second grade.  

Okay, so, I knew nothing about how to create a smart phone, but I envisioned one. 

It was part of a special project in second grade where we were tasked with creating a blueprint and model for an invention that we presented at an inventor's fair. 

I created an all-in-one watch-phone that strapped onto your wrist and acted as a fully functional computer, telephone, and video-game system. (The model screen had a hand-drawn picture of Sonic the Hedgehog)

I remembered the invention (and the awesome white lab coat I wore to the fair) a few days ago with a chuckle. It made me think about how much fun I had in elementary school, how I "created" with abandon.

Kids never say "I'm not creative."

How often do we hear adults say it (or have said it ourselves)?

I used to say it all the time. Until a few years ago when I realized being creative doesn't mean being able to draw well. 

Which is a good thing, because being creative is a required skill in today's marketplace, where the "next big thing" could be invented tomorrow (and maybe by a second grader who actually knows how a micro chip works...because admittedly I never did and still don't).

Your creativity can manifest itself as simply as an afternoon redecorating a favorite space, or as life changing as coming up with a new way to solve an old problem you've been facing. Who knows, your creativity could even solve a problem for an entire community - even the world. 

You are more creative then you realize. 

Below are a few simple ways to get your creative juices flowing this summer!

  1. Browse the children's section of a bookstore for your favorite childhood books. Revel in the memories, and think about buying one for inspiration. I recently ordered a hardcopy of my favorite childhood book and set it up as office decor - it serves as a reminder for me to continue to approach the world with childlike wonder. 
  2. Pick out a journal that inspires you and commit to writing in it (or sketching in it) every day for a few minutes every morning or evening. Make it a habit, even if you only write one sentence per day. 
  3. Do something that relaxes you like going for a walk or taking a bath. Most creative ideas happen when you're relaxed. 
  4. Grab some old magazines and a poster board and make a collage of things that inspire you and put it up on your wall. 
  5. Read about and engage with people from industries outside your own. For example, Disney has always inspired me. I once met with a Disney animator who'd worked on some of my favorite movies, like The Lion King. I wasn't looking to learn his craft, but I wanted to know him. I just had a feeling I'd be inspired, and I sure was.  
So put on your metaphorical white lab coat and create a smart phone inspired by your desire to play Sonic the Hedgehog at school. Remember the child you once were - the one who knew that you didn't need to understand everything about the world in order to dream.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

How a Skateboard Can Get You a Job [First Job Profile]

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to wear jeans to work, write on the walls, and have your creative ideas influence millions?

Meet Will Gay, Creative Director at Disney’s Yellow Shoes and the man who helped lead campaigns such as and the iconic campaign featuring YouTube videos of real families surprising their kids with a Disney vacation.

I recently sat down with Will; he shared invaluable advice on how to make it in the creative field, what you can do to get the attention of high-level professionals, and how a skateboard can help you get a job. His story is also jam-packed with with vital lessons for your future career success. 

What was your first job out of college and how did you get it?

Before I graduated actually, I called a bunch of agencies, and didn’t ask for a job directly. I just said I was looking to learn more and that I wanted feedback on my portfolio because I respected that particular person and their position. During my senior year of college I landed a salaried job as a Junior Art Director at one of those small agencies I had contacted.

[Lesson 1: Reach out to people at companies you want to work for.]

What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?

When you’re young you often think you know it all. I did, and at my first job I actually got fired after two years. I pushed hard for good creative work and fought my boss and others in all the wrong ways to get it done. When they lost a big client, I was the first to go.

I learned that there is a right way and a wrong way to fight for your ideas. I was humbled early on.

What did you do to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today?

Even though the first job ended badly, I had worked hard to develop a good portfolio and within three days I got a job with another agency where I got along really well with my boss and started to realize there was another way.

After doing some work there I was recruited by an ad agency in Orlando. However, it seemed I hadn’t fully learned my lesson quite yet.

I clashed with my boss again and found myself fighting for my ideas in the wrong way. I thought I was “irreplaceable” and when they lost a big client, again, I was one of the first to go.

[Lesson 2: Learn from your mistakes.]

This time I was out of work for eight months, which was one of the toughest times in my life, wondering how I was going to pay my bills.

I started freelancing for two agencies, one more well-established and another not so well known in the creative world. Both offered me a job, but I decided to go with the lesser known shop. I wanted the challenge, and I loved it.

We won a ton of awards and during one of the annual Orlando award ceremonies Disney was there and recruited me. I loved my job growing the ad agency I was at, but when Disney comes calling it’s hard to say no.

[Lesson 3: Choose opportunity over salary.]

What did you do to make sure you were prepared for each new opportunity?

You realize in hindsight that the journey and the struggle are often part of something bigger. Each thing taught me an important lesson I took with me to the next stage of my journey.

If I had gotten recruited at Disney too early I wouldn’t have been able to survive. I try to tell people to not try to rush it too much. And I’ve learned that if you always strive for great work and focus on that, the money will usually follow you.

What motivated you to work so hard?

I always wanted to try to do better work at each job, and always strive to do something different. You definitely have to be patient though to make break throughs.

You can’t be a rock star straight out of school. Some people can, it happens, but most people have to be patient and go through that slow step-up process and keep trying to do better things to get a better job.

When I went through a tough unemployment time after college I was really inspired by the story of Walt Disney losing everything he’d worked for in his first animation business, and then as he rode on a train, feeling depressed, he drew this little mouse that started everything.

Exactly. Walt drew Mickey during the worst time in his life. It’s so important to embrace those tough times. If you’re open and not afraid to keep trying, a mouse could pop into your head on a train.

What advice do you have for recent graduates who are struggling to find their first job after college?

Don’t get discouraged too easily.

The key is to be persistent and try to get attention in a unique way. Do something that is the opposite of what everyone else is doing – it’s the only way to stand out.

For example, so many students email me their digital portfolios, so what really stands out now are the things I get in the mail.

[At this point Will excitedly goes to his desk and pulls out this small sketchbook.]
The sketchbook cover.
This is a book someone made and mailed to me titled “15 Fool Proof Plans to get my feet in the door and into a brand new pair of Disney’s Yellow Shoes.” 
The inside page.
And at the end of the book (which was filled with off-the-wall cartoons of how she would ‘sneak into’ Disney Yellow Shoes offices, one of which is below) she hand-wrote the link to her portfolio.

It was obvious this took time to make, and it wasn’t something she could send out to everyone. It was creative, fun, personal, and irreverent. It showed she really wanted to work here, but more so, it also demonstrated the kind of skills needed in the creative industry.

She works here now.

[Lesson 4: Really get to know the companies you want to work for and personalize your approach.]

What advice do you have for grads who want to reach out but aren’t sure how to get the attention of someone in a way that would work for their desired industry and skill-set?

Know your audience and do your homework.

[Will gets up excitedly again to show me a skateboard. I’m confused for a second and then he turns it around to showcase a professional and artistic resume.]

I got this from someone who wants to work in our graphic retouching department. He found out through my blog that I skateboard and like to recycle my skateboards by painting over them.

[He then shows me the bottom of the skateboard where it says essentially “please recycle this board and paint over it.”]

Just like the small notebook, it was very personalized.

What should students avoid?

In the creative field, they should avoid having too many things in their portfolio. You have to self-select; otherwise it seems like you don’t have a point of view.

I also hated when people told me my portfolio was ‘great’ but then never called me back for a job. Students should ask for feedback.

After a recent event at a local university I had a student who asked me if he could walk me to my car. “I’m desperate,” he said, “I can’t get an internship and I need one for my major; I don’t know what’s going on.”

I usually try to leave these events right away so I can have dinner with my family, but I saw the fear in his eyes. I asked him to email me his portfolio.

[Lesson 5: When reaching out to people, don't be afraid to be vulnerable. It shows you care and will get their attention.]

The next morning I received an e-mail from him that had been sent 10 minutes after we talked.

[Lesson 6: Follow up with people immediately. It shows you're serious.]

I went through his portfolio and saw quickly it was not at the level where it needed to be. I invited him to come into the office to discuss it.

Remembering the lack of feedback I received and wished I had in my early years, I was very honest with him and told him what he needed to change.

The next day I got an e-mail with his new portfolio. He had taken my advice; I told him it was great and he told me he’d be sending it out that day.

A week later I got an e-mail from him [Will’s eyes start to water as he says this]…this is so recent I haven’t really talked about it. He e-mailed me and told me he had two internship offers with really great ad agencies and thanked me profusely for my help.

[Lesson 7: Act on good advice from professionals you admire immediately and follow up with a big thank you.]

It makes me tear up because I wished someone had helped me like that – it’s so hard. It made me think about the time I was looking for a full time job and some feedback how no one would get back to me. I felt so proud of him and so happy that the help worked.

He accepted one of the internship positions and is there now.

[Lesson 8: When you take someone's advice you make the other person feel that they're making a difference. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give. And your mentors deserve it, because they are giving you one of the other greatest gifts - their time.]


I want to say a huge thank you to Will for inviting me into his office and giving me a tour. As a super-Disney fan, it was such an honor.

I hope you enjoyed his advice as much as I did, and I hope you take action on some of the gems in this story. 

Who has a job that you admire whom you could reach out to and ask for advice right now? 

What creative way can you get the attention of someone at a company you really want to work for?

Go for it!

How to study and avoid procrastination in college

I have a confession to make: I procrastinate.

This is weird for me to say, because as my avid readers know, I'm the kind of person who does work way ahead of time; I never procrastinated in college.

However, in the past year of having my own speaking and consulting business, I'd started to notice a procrastination problemI wouldn't start organizing my speeches until the last minute. 

I love giving speeches, but I often dreaded planning them out. 

My speeches are very organic, personal, and customized; I never do the exact same speech twice, which makes for a great experience, but an intensive planning process every time. 

And up until recently the only process I knew to develop each unique speech was to sit in front of a blank Word document, think about my audience's needs, type out an outline, practice the speech, and then build the PowerPoint. 

Seems simple enough, but as you know from having essay assignments, staring at that blank screen is torture. 

I recently read the best book I've ever read on giving presentations and it sparked an entire new process of developing speeches. 

I just finished enacting my new process (I'm writing this on a Friday night, but am scheduling this post for Monday because I know most people aren't huge nerds like me who enjoy working on a Friday night) and I felt so invigorated that I had to share this experience with you. 

Finally, instead of staring at that blank screen I have a process that doesn't make me feel overwhelmed!

And most importantly - it's a process that killed my procrastination. I'm now unnaturally excited to plan all my speeches for the entire fall season and will probably have them all ready to go in the next two weeks. 

As I wrote my speech ideas onto notecards and categorized them on my living room floor I couldn't help but remember the wisdom of my 9th grade teacher who taught us how to write a research paper by breaking it up into small parts:

(i.e. writing each quote on a notecard, organizing the notecards in categories, and then ordering the notecards into a cohesive order; then all we had to do was go notecard by notecard and fill in the gaps with our writing). 

It reminded me that studying and tackling big projects in college requires purposeful process planning (omg is anyone else as excited as I am about this unplanned alliteration?).

Effective studying is not staring at a book. Writing a good essay is not staring at a blank screen. We procrastinate to avoid that awful feeling of not knowing how to start or what to do next. 

So the next time you get a homework assignment, I've already got your first step covered: develop a process.

For example:

1) Look at your assignment and create a list of small things you need to do in order to complete it. Each step shouldn't take you any longer than one hour. Keep the steps short and simple. 

2) Make sure each item begins with some kind of action verb.

3) Be creative. The best studying is down-and-dirty. Use your hands, use old-school tools like paper, scissors and markers, make notecards, spread your work all around the floor, plan discussions with friends, write on white boards, create animations, make up games. 

4) Go through your list and check off each thing as you complete it so that the next time you sit down to do your homework you only have to look at the next thing to be completed; don't overwhelm yourself by looking at it all. Just focus on one thing at a time.

Breaking down your work into smaller parts and developing a process that works for you is actually invigorating and kind of fun. Seriously. I'm not just a total nerd talking, I swear (oops...I already revealed I was doing work on a Friday night...but it really was fun. And I have lots of cool-awesome-epic (is saying "epic" still a thing?) non-work-related activities planned for Saturday ;)). 

We procrastinate because we're trying to avoid the feeling of incompetence. When you develop a process for your work you'll instantly feel more competent and confident, and you'll be armed with the skills to tackle your project ahead of time. 

For more reading on the best college study skills and processes check out my fav study skill book Cal Newport's How to Become a Straight-A Student

Monday, July 8, 2013

An overachievers guide to dealing with failure

Last week I had lunch with a professor I had in community college. She teaches Latin American Humanities, and we chatted about my current endeavor to learn Spanish.

We laughed as she recounted how hard it must be for an overachiever like myself to learn a language because I hate to make mistakes. I threw my hands up in laughter and yelled "yess that's so true!!"

I'm journaling about my experience learning Spanish (as part of an exploration of my biracial identity) for a future book, and in my journal one of the most frequent patterns is my fear of failure.

Because, as I've come to realize, learning a language, like many other difficult and worthwhile things in life, requires failure.  You have to make mistakes to learn a language. If you're not willing to make mistakes, you'll never learn.

And boy, do I hate that! 

As an overachiever, we love our A's, we love syllabi that lay out exactly what we have to do to get that A, and we get a high from doing exactly what we need to do to succeed. We love the rush of a 100% on an exam or getting back an essay with few red marks.

However, life doesn't quite work this way, and it often leads to a lot of anxiety after college; and sadly it sometimes stunts the potential of many overachievers - because failure terrifies us.

But as I've learned, it's not so bad once you realize failure is kind of like its own college class to be aced. It has much to teach us, and if we become a student of failure, we can still be 'overachivers' in the ways we deal with it.

Here are a few tips I've learned over the past few years as I've failed to roll my r's and gone through the many failures that come after graduating college and starting a business: 

1. Read biographies of people you admire

How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams is the book that helped me deal with the twenty-something crisis I experienced after I graduated college. I'm a big Disney fan but never knew much about the man behind the mouse. The book was recommended to me by my first professional mentor, and reading about Walt Disney's failures struck a strong chord with me.

This book helped me understand that failure was part of the journey for every super successful person. I noticed how Walt dealt with failure, how he learned from it, how he stayed imaginative, and how he never stopped building his skills and thinking about how he could add value to others.

Browse a few biographies or memoirs of really successful people whom you think are intriguing, and, as you read their story, analyze the failure parts. Focus on the timeline. Understand the years and the heartache success requires. And notice how these people dealt with the failures in their lives. Because they'll have gone through many more failures than you ever realized. 

2. Consider comedians

I'm a huge entertainment and pop culture junky, and I've always been fascinated with comedy. Confession: I'm not funny. In social situations you'll find me as a happy audience member; I love to laugh and I love surrounding myself with funny friends. But I've never been that person.

And recently I've realized it's partly because of my overachiever-nature. To be funny, you have to be willing to be unfunny.

I've read a few books about stand up comedians and learned that most of them, especially the most popular ones, test out their material in small clubs and work and rework their stuff until every single bit gets a laugh. 

The funny people in my life often tell jokes that fall flat. But because they keep telling jokes, they eventually make everyone red in the face with laughter. I admire funny people. It's an art that requires great courage, and it's an art to be learned from. 

3. Learn

At the Phi Theta Kappa International convention this past year speaker and tennis champion Billie Jean King said something I'll never forget: Choose to see failure as feedback.

If you take away the negative association with failure you take away its power. It's simply feedback to help you get closer to reaching your goals. Learn from it. Grow from it. And don't let it get the best of you. 

4. Laugh

"Isa, oh my gosh are you okay? Are you hurt? " my husband yells through the other side of my office door. 

"Yes, I'm fine" I yell back, laughing. "I'm just working on rolling my r's."


Never let the fear of failure keep you from taking chances; it's the only way to grow, and the best way to get better. 

Wouldn't you love to be paid to island hop? Advice from Islands Magazine Editor

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile will feature how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today (that they love, by the way), as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

I subscribe to Islands Magazine as a motivator - reading the amazing travel stories and looking at the serene beaches excites me to work harder to be able to visit the places I'm reading about. 

Last month I read an amazing story in the magazine and thought, "wow, the guy who wrote this is literally paid to travel to beautiful islands - what a cool job." I looked up the writer and it turned out he was the Executive Editor!

Many could argue being a travel writer is a dream job, but desiring to travel will not get you there. It takes hard work, and I'm so thankful to Robert for sharing his advice with us. Thanks Robert!!

 First Job Profile: Robert Stephens, Editor for the Islands media brand

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

For the first six months I got a taste of authentic television hauling camera cables and building scaffolds for a production company. 

When you're in the trenches like that, you get sweaty, dirty, and poor, but those types of jobs are opportunities to prepare for the next step. And that step was what I consider my first career job: producing the morning news for a TV station in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

I'd interned there my senior year of college. During that internship I did whatever was necessary to be part of the news team — not just a college student running errands to earn a few credits. The staff apparently liked my work ethic, and when a position opened up, they contacted me. No more scaffolds. 

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?

Humility for one. Looking for solutions instead of problems for another. My first night on the job was a disaster, and the best learning experience I've ever had. I knew I'd be responsible for creating the 6:30 a.m. newscast. What I didn't know is that I'd be alone from 11 p.m. until the anchorwoman showed up at 6 a.m. to go over the scripts — the ones I was supposed to write. 

It had to be the worst newscast in the history of that market. Tapes weren't cued up. Scripts were mistimed. Phonetic spellings were missing. We went to black three times. 

Afterward, the anchor was fuming. Before she could say anything, I walked up to her and said, "I'm really sorry. Tomorrow will be better, I promise. And I'd appreciate it if you could show me a few things before I leave today." Things got better in a hurry. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

The newsroom wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted to work with the sports division because the writing was more creative and less formulaic. So I actually volunteered to work with the sports crew on some weekends and evenings. When I decided to move into print media, that extra experience on the creative side got me in the door. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

Don't chase clouds. That job is important, but if you treat it as the be-all end-all, you'll be badly disappointed. It's just a part in the engine called life. So enjoy the process, always.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Every Fourth of July I find myself reflecting on the American Dream

Regardless of our country's problems, I'm so thankful to live in a country that works on those problems, that's free to speak about those problems, and that's built on an ethos of hope

Thank you to all of you college students who have served. 

I hope you have a bright and wonderful holiday.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to get a job in the fashion industry: H&M First Job Profile

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile will feature how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today (that they love, by the way), as well as their advice to help you do the same.

First Job Profile: Jennifer Ward, Senior Public Relations Director at H&M

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

I graduated with an Advertising/PR degree but was having trouble finding a job. I took a job at Tommy Hilfiger as a sales assistant so I could learn the other side of the business until I was able to find a position in PR.

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job?

My first job was all about learning about the corporate world and branding. In addition to learning the sales side of the business the behind the scenes was most interesting to me. I learned how everything a brand does is strategic. Why they choose the colors, where the item is placed in the store etc. I thought it was going to be a fashion job, but most of my day was sitting in front of a computer analyzing spreadsheets.

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

My first job helped me form a great foundation to overall understand fashion, but it did not help me much in my goals for PR. 

I had an internship in college for another fashion brand, and a year after graduating I interviewed for a full time position in their press department. It was a very small team of five which is where I learned everything to get me where I am today.

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

Talk, talk, talk. Ask anyone and everyone if they are able to help - networking is most important. A lot of jobs are not posted on website - it’s all about referrals. 

Having a strong resume will set you aside from the fierce competition. Try to have as many internships and volunteer jobs in your area of interest. If an employer is not hiring they will always remember their smart, motivated intern and help you find a position leveraging their contacts.

Great advice no matter what industry you want to pursue. Thank you so much Jennifer!

Monday, July 1, 2013

CC Grad Kay Atanda's Success Story: From Nigeria to the White House

I just finished writing a feature for the P.S. Blog about an amazing community college student, Kay Atanda, and his incredible journey. I wanted to share it with you here too. :)

“Just call me ‘Kay,’” he said.

“How do you say your real first name?” I asked.


I say it a few times until I get it right. I can hear his infectious smile on the phone.

Kay grew up in Nigeria where he witnessed poverty first hand: “Kids roamed the streets, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. There wasn’t a middle class,” Kay explains.

Kay felt lucky to be able to attend Redeemers International Secondary School in Nigeria. “We weren’t rich, but my mom always had the optimistic attitude that we could afford the important stuff. If we needed a textbook, she found a way to get it. My mom made us focus on school and she took care of the rest.”

Kay knew what a privilege that was. Daily he saw kids, some even younger than him, sell things on the streets to try to feed themselves and their families.

Kay understood at a young age that many of the problems were due to a poor governmental infrastructure, and he decided to do something about it....Read the rest of the story on the Pearson Students Blog.