Our Fellows were pleasantly greeted by Chris Gardner, Milwaukee native and best-selling author, whose memoir The Pursuit of Happyness has inspired many hearts and a major motion picture. His visits with the MKE Fellows have provided our students some anchors of wisdom to keep them strong in their identity.
The following letter was penned by a MKE Fellow student who was deeply moved by Gardner’s experiences:
“It is not every day that I am able to speak with people like you. People who have sat in the same classrooms as me, who have walked the same sidewalks as me, who then go on to be successful, not just in their own right, but also contribute to the overall scope of humanity. Having the chance to hear your story directly from you, what growing up in Milwaukee was like and everything that had shaped and prepared you for all that came your way, gave me a sense of motivation I had been missing for a while; the motivation to work to achieve all things possible, and then some, until God tells me I can no more. And for that I would like to thank you.
Thank you not only for taking time out of your life to come meet with us, but: Thank you for choosing to not follow the [negative] paths of those before you, understanding that you had the ability to define your life and not let your life define you. Thank you, not just from me, not just from the MKE Fellows, but thank you on behalf of all of those who have read your books and who listen to your dissertations (whether it be in person or watching on YouTube like I do). We thank you because your story gives us the assurance that we do not have to be products of our surroundings; that we can make the decision to not make the mistakes of those before us, that we too, can pursue ‘Happyness’.
I believe that it was no mistake for our paths to cross and I am confident that it will not be the last time. With hope, I too will someday be able to put CEO of ‘Happyness’ on my business cards. By then, I believe I will be able to truly understand its meaning and help guide people toward its direction, much like you have done. Once again, I genuinely thank you.”