MLK’s Lecture Hall was filled with freshmen students on Wednesday September 22 for the In House Career Speaker Series. Four dynamic speakers representing a range of occupations discussed the winding journey of life with Academy 101 students. Mr. Evan Dabier, owner of 2 Tone Boxing, Mr. Kevin Lowery, Juris Doctorate, Mr. Earnest Germany Jr., Cleveland FBI, and Mr. Geoffrey Ledwidge, McDonald’s Franchise Owner, discussed the three enduring questions of Academy 101, Who am I? What do I want? and How do I get it?
“In this life, no one is going to give you anything”, Evan Dabier says intensely. The 27 year old boxer speaks in a mild monotone but he carries the intense aura of a fighter. Mr. Dabier’s “Who Am I” includes the story of his decision which lead to his incarceration. A part of his journey includes the consequences of being a felon. “People can look at me or Google me and they come to conclusions about me. I’ve had investors pull out of business deals because of my past”, states the professional boxer. The professional fighter used his troubled past as an opportunity to become an entrepreneur when his background and tattooed frame made an insurmountable obstacle of traditional employment. Evan Dabier owns 2 Tone Boxing & Fitness in Beachwood, Ohio.
“You know I’m going to say something today, that’s going to change your life”, smiles Kevin Lowry. The JFK graduate boldly challenges students and welcomes the snide remarks of restless freshmen. Mr. Lowry in his second year as a career series speaker presents a PowerPoint to students of snap shots of his life. The child of two parents that were incarcerated off and on during his childhood, Kevin Lowry has a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland Marshall Law at Cleveland State University. Lowry also a small business owner describes how he entered law school with the encouragement of his wife. As a Cleveland State employee, Lowry would earn free tuition if he entered law school. Thoroughly convinced that his career success only existed inside of the home contractor business he owns Lowry speaks of his wife continuous encouragement, “My wife kept telling me to complete the [Law school] application. I was determined to make them [Cleveland Marshall Law] tell me No! So I completed the application and to my surprise I got in.” Now President of the Black Law Student Association, Kevin Lowry explains the “How do I get there?” to students as the result of making choices that were in his own best interest. Lowry was put out of Wright State University due to poor grades. He also had 13 felonies. And yet Lowry informs students, “When I started doing better [making better choices], doors started opening up for me.” Lowry beams proudly of pictures of him with his friend and mentor Mayor Frank Jackson. He was also one of four exclusive Marshall Law students that meet Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
“Does anyone know what FBI stands for?”, inquires Earnest Germany Jr. A few students respond that FBI means Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Germany is an auditor for the Cleveland FBI. His job details checking the tax returns and documentation of criminals under investigation. He tells stories to students of criminals that failed at trying to beat the system. “We are always a step ahead”, asserts Germany. Of course specifics of how the FBI investigate weren’t revealed but Germany clearly points out “how he got what he wants” in his current auditor position started over 20 years ago as a mailroom clerk. After completing a twenty page FBI application and an extensive background check upon being hired Germany thought he would begin his career in the FBI as a secret agent. His dreams were temporarily dashed when he was informed that he must humbly begin his career as a mail clerk. “I knew where I started at wasn’t going to be where I ended up at”, says Mr. Germany. A diligent work ethic and a commitment to personal improvement has served Mr. Germany well in his twenty plus years of service to the federal government. Mr. Germany closes with his very intentional comment, “There aren’t many minorities in the FBI. I purposefully came here to show you an opportunity.”
Mr. Geoffrey Ledwidge owns three McDonald’s restaurants in Cleveland. He came to own the restaurants due to a frugal lifestyle and a high level discipline and focus. Mr. Ledwidge tells students that saving money was so important to him that both he and his brother began cutting their own hair as young professionals to save $15 for haircuts. His discipline at saving allowed him to use his savings to purchase 3 McDonald’s which annually yields $8 million. Ledwidge worked at a McDonald’s and eventually did leadership training and consulting for McDonald’s corporate executives. “You have to separate yourself from others to achieve your dreams. You can do it…whatever you set your mind too”, encourages Ledwidge to students. Ledwidge adheres to his own words as he recounts how he set himself apart from others during the development stages of his career. “I was never late to work. I never missed a day. I always told people thank you”, Ledwidge emphasizes the soft skills of work to students. The old saying goes that luck is skill meeting opportunity. Ledwidge states because his skilled habit of coming to work combined with a frugal lifestyle when the opportunity came to purchase the restaurants, the owner contacted Mr. Ledwidge first because Ledwidge had made a lasting impression on the owner when Ledwidge worked for him. A student remarks, “Why is your ice cream machine always broken.” Mr. Ledwidge informs the student that the ice cream machine at the 105 and St. Clair McDonald’s has been repaired but keeps breaking down. “You know you make a good point”, says Ledwidge to the student. “If my customers are not happy, then we must do something different“, as he hands the student a McDonalds gift card.
The Career speaker series is a unique freshmen experience in the Academies of Cleveland. Martin Luther King Jr. Career Campus invites Cleveland professionals to discuss their careers to enlighten students. Recognizing that a large portion of learning exists outside of the classroom, Cleveland professionals offer the value of human capital and professional insight to our students. In our second year, the career speaker series is combined with the Academy 101 class. The Academy 101 class introduces a 10 year plan in which students write what they’ll accomplish in 10 years with education as a tool as to achieving the goal. Students will update their 10 year plan each year as they progress as MLK students.