Walking both sides of the street

Motivational speaker discusses life choices

James Rudolph , News Editor

“You are only as good as you want to be, but you have to make that decision,” said motivational speaker Joe Webb, “You have to make that choice.” Cal U welcomed Joe Webb, Interim Director of Student Affairs and Director of Student Support Services, for a motivational talk, beginning the Black History Month celebration for Feb. 

Webb provided life-advice and motivation by sharing his life-story and experiences with an audience of around 30 people. His experience of “walking both sides of the street” in life serves as a source of inspiration, in an effort to motivate college students. 

“Raise your hand if you like money,” Webb began, with everyone in the audience raising their hand. He then placed $20 on the stage and asked, “what if I were to say this $20 is for anyone who wants it?” Some students expressed their desires for the money, until one student stood up and took the money themselves. Webb explained how there are those who think about what they want, and those who act on what they want. He challenged the audience to take-action to achieve their desires. “Life is full of opportunities,” expressed Webb.

From Donora, Webb lived with his sister for some time, before being placed into foster programs and bouncing around from home to home. He excelled in sports, particularly football, but found it difficult to get into universities after failing the S.A.T. However, he received a scholarship to Edinboro University, but couldn’t play the first year.

Once Thanksgiving break hit, Webb had nowhere to go and was forced to live in the bushes outside his dormitory. He ended up being kicked-out of the university and went to jail. 

When he returned from jail, all of his personal possessions, which were in his dormitory, were thrown out. He returned to his hometown, lived with friends, worked at Eat ‘N Park, and attended CCAC. 

He was given the opportunity to attend Marietta College in OH, and he “took the initiatives to excel.” He buckled down and excelled academically. Once he graduated, he went to Wisconsin with his coach and became a graduate assistant. He completed his thesis and graduated with a 4.0. 

Despite this achievement, he found difficulty finding employment in higher-education due to the background check and took on a job at the Dick’s Sporting Goods on PA-51. Eventually, he got in contact with former governor Ed Rendell and received a Governor’s Pardon. He then got a job at Teal College. 

While telling his inspiring story, Webb passed along the wisdom he learned during this time with us. “I have the same opportunities as my peers,” Webb said, “but my decisions set me apart.” The focus of Webb’s talk revolved around the choices you make and how that makes you successful, regardless of “what side of the street you are on.” Things like saying “hello” and “goodbye” to your professors, coming early to class and being involved in the institution set you apart from your peers.

Webb highlighted three things needed for success: degrees, experience (both professional and life) and relationships. With those aspects, combined with the right-choices, you can achieve anything. 

“College is an opportunity to develop your skills,” Webb explained. He went into detail about how college students need to identify their unique strenghts, which will apply in all aspects in their life. “You are developing a story that, someday, may benefit others.” 

Regardless of background or situation, Webb emphasized how we all face hardships in life, but the choices you make dictate the success you will experience in life. Those choices you make help build the foundation of your success,

“The road to success is typicall not straight. We all experience red lights, friends and family, caution lights, which are financial troubles, and we all express a flat tire,” Webb explained to the audience. “We all will find our own roads. We will all find our own success.”