Freshman William Drake Patterson says believing in yourself and having confidence in your ability is critical to achieving success. This powerful statement was delivered to more than 1,000 students from across the Midwest this summer at the Jack and Jill of America Mid-Western Region Teen Conference.
While William was the image of confidence and eloquence during his speech, he admits that it was a long road to becoming comfortable in his own skin, and it was a matter of changing his mindset that led to growth, opportunities, and success.
Just one year ago, William struggled with a stammer but was determined to overcome it. His mother, Tracee Patterson, recommended he attend speech classes after school, which helped immensely with not only his stammer, but his confidence in delivering speeches publicly. In addition to an online speech class, Mrs. Patterson, is a strong advocate of community service and educational opportunities, which led her to discover her local Jack & Jill of America Chapter in Oakland County. The organization’s chapter plans annual programming activities guided under a general five point programmatic thrust: cultural awareness, educational development, health (education and advocacy), civic (legislative advocacy and service) and social/recreational areas. Through service projects, Jack and Jill of America creates a medium of contact for children to stimulate their growth and development - which is where her son, William, has been able to thrive.
“Being part of Jack & Jill has helped William to increase his confidence in himself. It helped him to not only hone in on his work ethic but have belief in himself, which are two important things that got him to the point he’s at now,” said Mrs. Patterson.
Out of over 1,000 students in attendance, William was one out of 10 students invited to speak at the regional conference. The Oakland County chapter’s parents agreed William would be the best candidate to represent and speak about the personal growth experience that he’s learned from his involvement in Jack & Jill and beyond.
“I had just three days to prepare once I learned that I was accepted as a student speaker,” said William. “I had a draft speech that was written for me, but I knew I could add my personal touch to it and make it my own. So I decided to change it around, and I think that really added to the impact it had on my peers.”
William’s speech was so powerful that afterward, his fellow chapter members elected him to represent their freshman class. In this role, William is responsible for voicing his peers' interests, ranging from guest speakers to volunteer opportunities, and which topics to focus on for the group’s annual presentation. The role will push him to zero in on his interest in leadership and prepare him for all that he hopes to accomplish at Catholic Central.
“I feel very fortunate to be elected to represent the freshman group within my Jack & Jill chapter. I hope to continue to practice my public speaking and leadership skills and use them at Catholic Central too,” said William.