I met Xavier at the EDXEDNYC conference on my birthday last year. As the shirt he’s wearing in his photo illustrates, he was a student volunteer and his true spirit of service shone bright. He helped me set up for my conference, showed me where lunch was being held, and answered all of my questions.
Although only a junior in high school at that time, his maturity was evident. I gave him one of my business cards and told him to keep in touch. Fast forward to June 6th of this year at that same conference and who was there volunteering again? No one other than Xavier. Same smile, same effervescence. He impressed me further when he pulled out my business card from his wallet! He kept it the whole year! He told me when he graduated from HS and has made a point of keeping in touch. I’m pleased to present him and his writing to our NYST community. Hear him!
My name is Xavier Pierce and I am a recent graduate of a NYC public high school. Throughout this year, I’ve been preparing myself to attend Full Sail University starting September 2nd. I have to be in Florida by August 1st. As of right now, it’s looking like I won’t be able to attend the school I have studied and prepared myself for due to money situations which I share with many other students, one that Forbes calls a $1.5 trillion crisis.
Throughout my educational journey, I’ve come across teachers who cared about me and other teachers that didn’t. In my 4th grade class, my teacher said to me, “Xavier, why do you even come to school? It’s not like your going to learn anything!” In seventh grade my science teacher said to me, “I highly doubt you’ll ever be as good as Steven Spielberg. I can see you being a garbage man.” As a student in middle school, I started to believe these statements.I started to ask myself if I was smart enough to finish school and if I would be successful in life.
During my last two year of middle school I was “tricked” into joining a club that changed my life and my thinking forever. In 2014, I joined FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and I served as a chapter vice president for two years and a New York State FBLA vice president for one year. During my 3 years of being an FBLA participant, I learned how to network, advocate for myself, become a leader, and most importantly, to believe in myself and not to let negative people or statements determine my future.
During high school, every now and then the doubt-filled things those teachers said would replay in my head. But,I never forgot what I learned from FBLA. It would be those very principles that would usher me into the next phase of my life.
One night last year in Elmont, Long Island, the show “Ray Donovan” was filming just a few blocks from my brother’s house. I asked my brother over and over again if we could take a walk over there so I could introduce myself and see if I could get on the set as a Production Assistant but my brother said, “No, they’re all over there working. They have no time to talk to you!” So after dinner on my way home, I took it upon myself to use my FBLA networking skills and introduce myself.
While on the set, I met and developed a good relationship with Mike Downey, the Content Provider/Production Service supervisor. While we were talking he told me to email him because it was getting late and he also had work to do. So I went home that night and I emailed him a thank you note for taking the time to chat with me. The next day I emailed him again and I expressed my love for production and asked if I could come in to learn more about production and possibly talk about a job. He never answered that email so every two to three days I would copy and paste my last email and resend it to him.
He finally replied after the second week and I was invited to almost every shoot they had and I quickly became “one of the guys on set.” On my last day I was talking to Mr.Downey, telling him how I didn’t want to go to college I just wanted to start working on big sets and make movies. Mr.Downey looked at me and said, “Xavier, in whatever you do you’re going to need some kind of degree to excel higher. You don’t want to get to that point and be stopped because you don’t have the credentials to. Go home and look into Full Sail University.”
That night I did exactly as he told me and the next morning I applied for Full Sail, which specializes in entertainment technology. I went to Florida in February and fell in love with the school and its teaching methods. Because Full Sail does not have dorms, I had to find housing and I was fortunate to find a lovely one bedroom apartment down the street from the school. I am currently scheduled to start classes on September 2nd and move in August 1st but due to financial hardship I’m afraid I will have to give up my hopes to continue my educational journey at Full Sail University.
I’m ready to follow the advice of Mr. Downey but, like so many other America students from less-than-well-heeled backgrounds, I may be forced to give up my dream. I know my teachers were wrong — I’m no garbage man! But until college becomes affordable to students without trust funds I’m not sure how I’ll succeed.