Bestselling author, educator and entrepreneur Stedman Graham kicked off his day at Menlo-Atherton High School this morning with an inspiring interactive session for staff and community members at the school’s Performing Arts Center. He returned later, along with Justin Tuck and Caroline Jones, to present their mission to the students.
Graham is a part of the Sonima Foundation, a health and wellness curriculum that encourages students to become future leaders by developing their identities. As part of his connection to the Sonima Foundation, Graham visits around 70 schools nationally each year to deliver inspirational speeches, supporting and encouraging students to fully understand themselves in order to have a prosperous life.
Guidance Counselor Laura Duran explains, “Stedman and his team were working with Ravenswood School District. [They] were looking to visit a Bay Area high school… and because M-A is now the home school for Ravenswood, our partner district suggested they visit us. When we heard of the opportunity, Principal Kennel recognized the value immediately.”
Graham believes that “it’s really a luxury to have an identity and to know who you are because most people are stuck and I would say that 99 percent of the people in the world are followers… and also slaves.”
Graham built off the question, ‘Who are you?’ because you cannot be successful unless you have rightfully defined yourself. If you do not define yourself, you have “give[n] your power over to someone else, [and] they will define you as something else.”
The main takeaway from Graham’s oration is that love is the only way you can find and understand yourself because what you love comes from the heart, rather than what society wants you to be or says you are.
Michelle Breen, math teacher at M-A, notes: “I think it is a fantastic and inspiring day. It is a great thing when the whole M-A community, from the students to the staff can focus on what motivates them, what they love, and who we are as individuals. With a better understanding of who we are as individuals, it will only make our community stronger.”
While Stedman Graham is well known for his connection to Oprah Winfrey, few know that their good friend Gayle King, the current co-anchor of CBS This Morning and editor-at-large for O, The Oprah Magazine, is an M-A alumna (‘72).
Photo by Betsy Sergeant Snow