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Using My Loud Mouth to Make an Impact

March 30
by
Shallum Atkinson
in
Creative Outlets
with
.

There’s  a story that has greatly inspired me over time. A boy, whose teacher asked the class to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up for homework. The boy then went home and wrote down that he wanted to be on TV.


He turned in his assignment the next day to his teacher, she looked down at him, and then proceeded to call his mother. She told his mom that he wasn’t taking his assignment seriously and that he needed to write down what he actually wanted to be when he grew up, something realistic. Knowing that he was probably going to get a ‘whoopin’ as he arrived home from school, he tried to sneak in, yet he was caught and his mom told his dad to deal with him.

So his dad takes him outside and reads the paper and instructs his son to write down whatever his teacher needs to hear, turn it in, and then keep this piece of paper within reach and never forget it.

So the boy turns the paper in to his teacher and continued to work towards his goal every day and hasn’t stopped yet. That same boy is now the host of Family Feud, the Steve Harvey Show, Little Big Shots, his own radio show, has hosted numerous events, and made a living off his childhood dream.

That same boy is Steve Harvey. It is that same drive, perseverance, and passion that I truly believe burn deep within me and push me to challenge myself each and every day. To risk it all for others, and to continue to fight the good fight. I come from a family of 9 children. A family of more than enough kicking and screaming, bunk beds, and forced sharing.

I am 3rd to youngest, only to my two little twin brothers. A family where each one of us is in our own zone, and had chosen our own paths early in life. But with this I learned what it is like to have your voice drowned out among the noise. When often no matter how hard you try sometimes your voice isn’t heard even though it may be unintentional. It’s no secret that I am a black male, but it’s lesser known that black males only make up 2.7 percent of UGA’s student population.

Out of Georgia’s 30% black population, UGA does not accurately represent the demographics of the state as the flagship institution.

In a school with 35,000 other students it’s very easy to get lost in the wind, and get pushed into the crevices of this great institution. Too often left behind in the march ahead, or silenced among the masses. Coming to UGA and having to adjust to the demographics implored me to find ways to make this campus more diverse in terms of race, truly because I thought many were missing out on what a great college it really is based on stigmas.

I joined organizations like the Black Male Leadership Society, where I later went on to become President, and the %tags Creative Outlets Culture/Travel Inspirational People Student Government Association, where I’ve been Chief Justice the past two terms. I used the connections I then made to be able to advocate on behalf of minority students and find unique ways to change the campus culture. It is what I have spent a lot of my time doing at UGA and have truly enjoyed every moment of it.

But I wasn’t always the one on the front lines of this battle. I was once deemed as shy or quiet.

Blending in among the crowd like a grain of sand on a beach. It was in the 8th grade when I learned a valuable life lesson as I failed to make the cut for the basketball team. I only wanted to be talented in basketball because it was what seemed cool, and what others seemed to care about.

It had never occurred to me at the time that my eloquent voice could be used for advocacy and impacting the lives of many in a positive way simply because it wasn’t flashy. That is when the switch clicked.

I knew I needed to use my voice for others. But by the way, I did go on to play basketball in high school, in case you thought I sucked. The decision to run for Student Body President came from a place of purpose, a place of passion, a place of hope, and a place of calling. It is that fundamental belief that we are all created equal and no matter how small, or how different we may be, we all belong and not only deserve, but are guaranteed a voice.

If you have ever played in a band you know that although some instruments may be louder and seem to drown out others, each instrument is critical to creating the ultimate sound. I run so that I may speak for the forgotten. To give a voice to the voiceless, and to bring together each and every student on this campus, from all walks of life, to unite as one and speak as one.

From a young age in school and with friends I knew and still feel to this day what it is like to be left out.

And even if one student felt that way, it would break my heart. I will never make promises that I can’t keep in ensuring that each student will have each individual issue taken care of. But I can say that I will spend every ounce of drive in me to strive toward that goal. It isn’t always about jumping to a storybook ending; sometimes you just have to write the first word.

Saying that we are ALL IN  is a very intentional statement. In choosing to run, I have given up internships and organizational opportunities, taken off work, and sacrificed time with family and others. I say that not because I want you to feel sorry for me, because this has been an active choice everyday. I want everyone to understand that sometimes things are bigger than yourself.

It isn’t always about you.

We are all just pieces of a whole picture, stories and snapshots of memories that tell a greater story, and I am here to lift all voices up. I have been told over and over in my life that things couldn’t be done. That I wasn’t going to succeed in areas of my life, and that my dreams and aspirations were too lofty or unattainable. But over and over again, I have proved each and every one of them wrong. I hope to do so again. I want to be an inspiration to each and every other student just like me.


I want to light a fire in every person I come into contact with and to help ignite their passions for what they believe in. Because then and only then, can they be satisfied with the outcome knowing that they gave it their all. I implore anyone who reads this to never give up, write your own destiny, be yourself, find your talent and use it to positively impact someone else’s life, and always, go ALL IN.

Awesome. We will send you a quality story from time to time.

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