Put Yourself Out There

I’ve always been incredibly driven and I’ve never been content with anything I’ve done. I’m always looking for what’s next. I’ve never really known what drives me though. It has not been for the money because I do not have any to show for it. I think it is just for my own personal satisfaction. I’m the kind of person who never says no to anything. I’m always down for anything and I think because of that I’ve lived a much more fulfilling life.

Up until the 6th grade I was probably the shyest kid in school. I had a childhood girlfriend from the 2nd grade until the 6th grade and when she broke up with me I realized that I was on my own. It was time for me to speak up and make a name for myself. Once I entered middle school I began to get involved with whatever I could. When I passed people I knew in the hallways I would always smile and say hi. In that one year I completely transformed myself from a shy little kid to an outgoing, well-known, respected, young teenager. At the end of the year I decided to run for Student Council President which was the highest position you could hold in the 8th grade. So I put together this video that had nothing to do with Student Council. We tied stuffed animals to strings where one stuffed animal represented me. That stuffed animal saved another stuffed animal from being hit by train and they called me a hero. That video won me the election and gave me all the confidence in the world.

In the 8th grade I went from being the kid that you never heard a word from to the kid you had to listen to on the morning announcements every day. I had straight A’s all through the 8th grade because of that confidence. Soon it was time for high school and I was ready for it. I got involved in everything I could. I pushed myself harder and harder. I ran for student government and I was voted on as a freshman, sophomore, and Junior. 

I was extremely involved in high school and I pushed myself as hard as I could to succeed academically. I finished with around a 4.1 GPA placing me at 19th in a class of around 500 people. When it came time to look at schools it only took one visit for me to realize where I wanted to attend college. I ran across a flyer while on the campus tour of the Ohio State University for the Ohio State Water Ski Team. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Originally I thought that Ohio State would just be too big of a campus and I would get lost in the crowd. Although the more I looked into it I realized a larger university would just offer more opportunity.

I applied to Ohio State and was accepted. I then had to figure out a way to pay for my education. I did my research and found out there was a scholarship that I could apply for through the Office of Minority Affairs because I was a first-generation college student. I wrote a series of 5 essays and sent in my transcript and high school resume. Every day I anxiously awaited a letter in the mail from Ohio State to hear whether or not I received a scholarship. I came home from school one day and the letter was there. I will never forget reading that letter that told me that I had earned a full scholarship to Ohio State. I honestly was jumping up and down and screaming because I was so happy. The first person I had to call was my dad. He was already in his 60s and was still working full-time and still had to put me and my twin brother through college. He was so incredibly happy when I told him the news. This took so much weight off his shoulders. I spent the rest of the day calling my family and spreading the news.

Before starting at Ohio State I thought that getting involved would help make the campus feel smaller and make me more at home. So I applied for a scholars program called the Mount Leadership Society that did community service and leadership training and was soon accepted. About 100 students were selected into the program and all of those students live in the same dorm. This turned out to be a great way to network and have my own family on campus. It made me feel right at home. The students in Mount were incredibly involved and it pushed me to continuously put myself out there and become more involved at Ohio State.

In my first week at Ohio State I joined the Water Ski Team. A few weeks later, even though I did not really know anyone, I decided to run for captain. I knew I had no chance of winning but I wanted to put myself out there. The next time the election came around I ran for treasurer and won. The next year I ran for captain and my wish that I had as a freshman came true. I was then reelected for a second term. It was discouraging with the water ski team at first because the members were more interested in attending football games than competing in tournaments. My goal was to turn this all around. Our team raised money to purchase a $32,000 2002 MasterCraft ProStar 209 that was vital to our team’s success. 


I worked hard to recruit skiers from summer tournaments to come to Ohio state. Our men’s team was stacked but our women’s team still needed some work. So I spent countless hours working with our girls to get them ready for competition. My proudest achievement came in the fall of 2010 when our team qualified for nationals for the 1st time in over 30 years. Not only did we qualify but we ended up winning the Division II national championship in Austin, Texas. We went from a team that barely competed to being on top. I was so proud to be a part of this transformation over the course of 5 years.

I continuously was looking for something new at Ohio State. I took advantage of every opportunity that was granted to me. I said yes to everything which made for the most incredible college experience. In the spring of 2008 I was accepted into the Sphinx Senior Class Honorary. This organization chooses 24 students every year that best represent the Ohio State University. It is the highest honor which can be accorded a student at the Ohio State University. I had transformed from that shy little kid to a student that stood out amongst tens of thousands of students. My name was forever put on a plaque that will stand in the center of campus at Sphinx Plaza long after I’m dead and gone.


Here is everything that I was involved with in my time at Ohio State:

Sphinx Senior Class Honorary, Texnikoi Engineering Honorary, Honors Program, Mount Leadership Society (OSU Scholars Program), Mount Member Development Committee, Mount Recruitment Committee, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Psi Scholarship Committee, Ohio State Water Ski Team Captain  (2010 Div. II National Champions), Ohio State Water Ski Team Treasurer (2006), 2008 Ohio State Slalom Champion, Ohio State Water Ski Club, Scholars Ambassador, Overnight Host, Chippewa Lake Water Ski Show Team (2004 Div. II National Champions), Morrill Scholar’s Program (Office of Minority Affairs) Prestige Scholarship (full scholarship), Freshman Excellence Scholarship, Vice President of Phi Kappa Psi Spring Pledge Class 2006

I would not trade my college experience with anyone. I loved every second of it. I have a great sense of who I am because of all that I was a part of. I know what I am made of because of all that I’ve gone through both in school and especially when I was tested in the psych ward and once again after my accident. When I first got injured I thought that this life was over and that the old Adam was dead and gone. There was so much that I could no longer do and it was overwhelming to think about. It took me a long time to get that confidence back. But now I’m more ready than ever to take on the world. I will not let my disability hold me back. I will take everything that I’ve learned throughout my life to help teach others from what I did right and what I did wrong. I found myself by putting myself out there so I’m going to continue to do that. It helped me to realize my full potential. 

We are all capable of great things. Unfortunately most people never realize their full potential because they never put themselves out there. Maybe there is something out there that you will love more than anything but you are not searching for it. I challenge you to push yourself further than you ever have in your life. Follow your dreams and write yourself a brighter future. Push yourself as hard as you possibly can because if you do not you will never learn what you are made of and you will never find yourself.






2 thoughts on “Put Yourself Out There

  1. Adam, this would be an awesome speech to give to seniors at SMFHS. I hope you do it someday. Love, Mrs. Denton?

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