Pumped up

Andy Masters wasn’t a popular kid
in high school. He didn’t make good grades; He was beat up by a girl. He only had one girlfriend, and she even told him that it was because she felt sorry for

That was the anecdote Masters used to begin an hour-long presentation at this year’s TJC Freshman Convocation held on Sept. 5 and 6 in the Wise Auditorium.

From there, Masters transitioned his speech into college success, beginning by saying that once you are in college, it doesn’t matter what you did in high school.

The speaker is living proof of that. Following his lackluster high school career, he made the most of his college experience, earning four degrees and serving as the Student Government Association President at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The native of Fort Lauderdale and author of five books relayed his turnaround to a pair of attentive groups of freshmen during two different sessions.

“I had one of the single, worst high school careers of anyone in this room,” Masters said. “I am still traumatized to this day because it was so bad.”

Masters described that experience, from his poor grades to his dating experiences before hitting on two main points – or revelations – as he described them.

The first was that it doesn’t matter what you did in high school once you were out; the second was that success in college has nothing to do with how smart you are.

“This is when the world starts keeping score,” Masters said. “This is when the game starts.”

He described how he ran with his opportunity by getting a fresh start and becoming involved. He explained how getting involved in student activities helped him land jobs once he was out of college.

He said every student in the auditorium had the opportunity to have a 4.0 GPA. It doesn’t matter how smart they are, they just have to want it.

“It is cool to hear a story about someone that struggled in high school because I struggled in high school,” Syerra Nelms, a freshman from Flower Mound said. “It was nice to hear how you can go far.”

His message of becoming involved was well-received. He described how when he first got on campus, he joined several organizations. He didn’t just sign up, he got involved.

He said, it’s not about what you know, it is about who you know.

“It was an eye-opener,” Clarence Schwartz, a freshman from San Antonio said. “I am in the Apache band but now I can see how connections would work in the future and now.”

Masters offered up one study tip for students in attendance. It was simple. Don’t try to watch TV while studying. Put the books aside when you are watching TV or turn the TV off and pick up a book.

It was another message that stuck with students following the presentation.

“Obviously, I am a college student and I watch TV while I am studying so I don’t exactly pay attention to what I am studying,” Nelms said. “It is smarter to watch your show and study after or study before and get it all done.”

Another study skill Masters included was turning down opportunities to hang out with friends and to stay in and study instead.

“The studying part,” Schwartz said was what stuck with him about Masters’ speech. “Putting down the TV and studying and telling friends, ‘No, not tonight, I am not going to hang out tonight. I have to study,’ “

Masters concluded his presentation by stressing the points he made earlier, specifically getting involved, taking advantage of opportunities and making the most of the college experience.

“The biggest regret you will have in life is the things you didn’t do,” Masters said. “Don’t ever look back at your college career and ask, ‘Why didn’t I?’ Your one shot starts now.”

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