Why your 15-year-old should compete for honors at today’s award ceremony

Today is National Merit Commencement Ceremony. This is an annual event at the Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia that honors the top students in the nation. This is my story, a story I…

Why your 15-year-old should compete for honors at today's award ceremony

Today is National Merit Commencement Ceremony.

This is an annual event at the Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia that honors the top students in the nation.

This is my story, a story I didn’t write myself, but I decided it to be powerful and help you decide which prestigious mentoring program to participate in.

Three words: “Who, where, when, why and how to.”

If you ever wondered if you are strong enough to become a pediatric brain surgeon, a math genius, an engineer, a genius or even a world renowned chess champion, the answer is yes.

You have to understand the concepts you need to be a world-class achiever.

My daughter Dina, who is graduating high school today, is going on to the University of Washington.

She will be majoring in psychology and neuroscience.

How does she get to be such a stellar scholar?

Many people ask me this question and I always just say that it’s my daughter!

She’s only 15 years old and she is our eldest child.

Dina learned these principles in preschool. Her educators trained her as a student and a person to carry that knowledge into high school.

She was helped at a very young age to memorize equations, learn the basic concepts of evolution, and love sports and the arts.

These are all all part of her training to excel. She’s earned the highest marks in science and math in a college-wide examination.

And she’ll be attending the prestigious Washington University in St. Louis.

They call her one of the great achievers of all time.

And she’s been working hard since age three.

So you’re probably wondering how does someone like this get to the top?

I would ask that question to you instead.

Did you learn it in preschool?

I believe that there is a readiness level of whatever you want to be in life.

If you can’t learn algebra now, you can at the age of five or six and then there is a window of opportunity to learn it until you’re in sixth grade.

The key to achieving anything in life, for example, becoming a major world champion or being an engineer, is the ability to learn new things.

Do you want to be a rock star? Go play with the bugs. Learn things. Then try to be a world champion.

How about becoming the best basketball player in the world?

You learn the key principles at an early age.

But to continue in the future, you need to get good grades in school and have good behavior.

This is what too many young people do today. They have a wonderful foundation, but go off to an Ivy League university.

As soon as they are at that university, they are beyond their reach.

They don’t gain this real-world experience until they’re in their late teens or early 20s.

There is a life-changing opportunity for young people to know what their real professional goal should be at age 15, 16, 17 or 18.

They need to have that brain-building experience of making decisions at that age.

That’s what Dr. King did when he was 16.

I recently visited my daughter at the Connecticut campus of the University of Connecticut. It was such a unique opportunity.

It was amazing how much she came to know and appreciate school while she was there.

But it was a day of inspiration for me, too.

How can we inspire our children to achieve their highest potential if we don’t really know where they are now and where they are going?

This is the message that Dina shares with other young people, as she recently wrote:

“I believe that we as parents can encourage our children to just begin to learn more. It is how we encourage them that truly matters.”

This is the truth.

So at this event, I am asking you to remember to do the same at your school and community.

It is how we nurture our children today, that truly sets them up for a lifetime of success.

Mary Katherine Ham, Ph.D., is the author of “Rise and Shine!” © 2017.

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