On Monday, January 8, 2024, students were welcomed back to school after the two-week holiday break by attending an assembly on identity, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence presented by Kenton Mack during homeroom.
Mack, a public speaker, former college basketball player, Medical Sales Representative for Abbott Laboratories, non-profit founder, and business owner, discussed the importance of building relationships by being meaningful in how we interact with each other daily. His presentation was part of a series of guest speakers about diversity brought possible to the school by Chris Okoye ‘14, Director of Diversity, Student Engagement, and Community Outreach.
Mack emphasized the importance of taking time to stop and listen to others to encourage more meaningful interactions. He talked about how we commonly ask someone “How are you?” – often without even slowing down our walk or stopping to talk to them at all - and the answers usually include one-word empty responses, such as good, tired, or fine.
Mack demonstrated how deepening these conversations and listening to the other person can help spread positivity and develop yourself as a better communicator.
During the assembly, students participated in several activities to encourage engagement and practice what Mack taught. They were asked to spread out throughout the gymnasium and introduce themselves to their classmates.
Students were encouraged to ask questions beyond “How are you?” or “How is your day going?” to help get to know each other better. At the end of the activity, Mack asked students to reflect on the interesting information they learned about their classmates just by having a 30 second conversation with them.
Mack is the founder of Athletes Igniting Action, an athlete empowerment organization that helps equip people with the tools to become more vocal about social and racial injustices. He founded the company in 2020 alongside two of his former basketball teammates from Northern Michigan after the trio spent time discussing how to create change within their classes, games, and practice.
Although the organization is directed at athletes, Mack’s long-term vision for his company is to engage with people outside of athletics. His action talks are designed to inspire people to use their voices to be the change they want to see in the world.