Speaker motivates students to hold on to their dreams

Jennifer Manalili

To help commemorate Black History Month, the World Cultures Program had motivational speaker Monica Pool Knox speak on campus.

Knox has served in leadership roles at a handful of Fortune 500 companies including Sony, GTE, Verizon Wireless, the Walt Disney Company, and Pepsico.

A constant traveler, she has lived in Germany and Puerto Rico, and her nonprofit endeavors have sent her to Ghana, Brazil, Israel, Central Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Knox described her advice on achieving goals in steps: Be intentional. Don’t let limited resources or disadvantages keep you from driving forward. Build up your inner circle and take the negative people out – Surround yourself with good people who will steer you in the right direction. Take every advantage that is given to you. Differentiate yourself and learn how to articulate that. Find the lesson in your experiences. And be resilient.

She began the presentation with a handful of inspirational quotes, the most striking being from President Theodore Roosevelt: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Her mother was a strict teacher, her father an advanced colonel in the Army. She was a junior in high school when her world was turned upside down,

Her father, who she referred to as her best friend, was hospitalized with an unknown illness, something that he’d acquired from chemicals in Vietnam.

Seeing her father, a 6’5 and 225 pound man, suddenly helpless was life changing. Knox said he would continue to be hospitalized, “die and come back twice,” and struggle for the rest of his life.

The illness, which most closely resembled multiple sclerosis, would render her father a quadriplegic and rob him of his mind. He would have the mental capacity of a five-year-old for the rest of his life.

Because of the medical costs, her mother had no way to help her afford school but Knox soldiered forward to college with “…No money, no job, no plan, and no resources.”

“…There was no other option for me,” she said. “There’s something to be said about the power of intention… When you have your heart and head wrapped up – it’s amazing. I drove, I went forward, i was so determined. I got into that Ford Escort and went.”

Knox expanded on her lists of directions, describing the strong relationships she built in college through work and a sorority.

Later, she described other hardships: roommates who were thieves and drug addicts, an unfaithful husband and her first failed marriage, and being fired. Still, she stressed, to follow her advice and keep striving forward and never losing sight of your dream.

The Saville Theatre was almost filled to capacity. Afterwards, the audience seemed receptive to the message, with many enthusiastically asking questions that ranged from resume building to how Knox manages to balance life with family and find time to relax at the end of her busy days.

Knox received her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara and her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

The free event was held on Feb. 11 in celebration of Black History Month.

For more information on the World Cultures Program visit www.sdcity.edu/WorldCultures.