We all need a little help in life, and I truly believe that it’s not only our obligation but an honor to be in a position to reach out and help others. So today, I wanted to share with you the special story of a promising young man named Omari Eaton.
Since I made it into the Million Dollar Round Table as a financial planner this year, we were able to earn him a grant to attend the UFSC MARK I Leadership Program in Virginia.
The UFSC MARK I Leadership Program is a one-year national apprentice challenge program that offers rigorous personal development and business training for bright young potential entrepreneurs and community leaders.
But instead of me telling you about Omari’s journey, I thought I’d share the letter that he wrote about it:
Thanks to all of my sponsors and those who supported me on my visit to Richmond, Virginia for the UFSC MARK I leadership program. It was an amazing experience!
Going in, I really had no expectations about the trip because I’d never been to Richmond, VA, but it really hit me, and I got excited the moment we stepped off the flight.
There was someone there to greet me and the rest of the leadership seminar attendees, and we were chauffeured around the city for a look before checking in at the Virginia Crossing Hotel. That part made me feel like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!
With all of the participants arriving, the UFSC MARK I leadership program kicked off. We started to get to know each other with icebreaker activities, and the scavenger hunt was my favorite one. But it wasn’t all fun and games, as we got down to the business of learning vital information and networking so we could challenge ourselves and win the competition.
After a nice dinner, the program’s faculty members dismissed us to go work on our presentations for the next day.
The next day started with a bolt of energy at 6 am when we all hit the gym, and then we worked on the individual and team requirements. I had a bad stomach from something I ate but I just couldn’t quit and let all of my teammates and supporters down, so I kept on going and made sure to contribute.
Next, we gave presentations about the team scavenger hunt, social media fundraising challenge, and a business pitch. We carefully watched other people’s presentations about personal leadership, networking strategies, business pitch training, legal concepts for the small business owner and more. It felt like a lifetime’s worth of new knowledge in one day!
On Wednesday, we took a trip in to Washington D.C., where we visited the M&T Bank Commercial Office. There, a few industry experts gave us a talk developing about personal strategies for being financially literate and having digital savvy.
I learned about adapting with the time and circumstances, advocating for yourself, and, the most important one – if it doesn’t make money, then it doesn’t make sense!
After meeting with former UFSC MARK I graduates and having break-out sessions about entrepreneurship, we toured the African American History Museum in Washington D.C. before heading back to the hotel. By the way, Virginia has a lot of history, especially for African Americans. I didn’t know that Virginia was a common law state that made their own laws and that Washington D.C. residents don’t have the right to vote!
On Thursday, we volunteered at the Circle Center Adult Day Care Center and spent the rest of the day at The SunTrust Mortgage Building. We watched fascinating presentations on internship opportunities, networking, and the team working session.
Finally, it was time for each of us to get up and offer our own presentations, pitching a business idea at the Federal Reserve Bank! After that, we received feedback and awards, and the long week for this year’s UFSC MARK I leadership program was at a close.
I was exhausted since we woke up well before 6 am every day to eat breakfast and hit the gym, and worked well into the night. But I also felt energized and like anything was possible now, thanks to what I’d learned and the confidence it instilled in me.
Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to Virginia, and want to thank those sponsors who supported me and made this trip a reality.
I feel like I’m a better business man, citizen, and person for it!
Congrats to Omari and I’m sure you’ll send him well wishes for all of his future endeavors!