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Motivational Speaker Visits Gililland Middle School, Shares The One Thing People Can’t Take Away

Post Date:02/28/2019

Mona Dixon smiling with nine GMS studentsWhat’s one thing that people can never take away?

The answer to that question was the message that Mona Dixon, a former student of Gililland Middle School, shared with 300 seventh-grade students in the Gililland cafeteria last week.

Dixon’s message, packed with inspiration and encouragement, shared the importance of not letting circumstances stop one from pursuing their goals. Sharing personal accounts of what it was like to be homeless in Tempe, there were many obstacles that Dixon and her family faced.

“How am I expected to think about a hard math problem when I was busy thinking about where my next meal was coming from?” Dixon shared as one of the many struggles she had when she went through school.

Some of those struggles caused her to act out in a negative way, a way of diverting the attention she was getting for things that were out of her control – like having to wear the same clothes multiple times a week.

“A teacher here pulled me aside and told me that I had a lot of potential and was very smart, but that I had to use my energy in the right way,” Dixon shared. “She allowed me to be a leader in the classroom, to volunteer and help with activities. That started getting me interested in building volunteer hours and getting scholarships and things that helped me move forward.”

The relationship with that teacher, Bernadette Lissner, combined with opportunities from the Boys and Girls Club, made all the difference in Dixon’s life.

Dixon has since gone on to become a teen empowerment leader, author, keynote speaker and success coach, and a U.S. Presidential Corporation for National and Community Service Appointee. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University.

Dixon’s visit was part of Arizona State University’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) initiative. The GEAR UP initiative is forMona Dixon smiling and speaking to GMS students current Gililland Middle School seventh-graders, and exists to help increase college readiness and enrollment, increase graduation rates, and educate students and families about postsecondary options, preparation, and financing.

So what is it? One thing that people cannot take away?

“One of the biggest things I have learned in my journey is that education is one thing that people cannot take away from you. Focus on growing your mind with knowledge, and don’t worry about what other people are thinking about you.”

Dixon added that it’s important for students to use what they’re good at, and work hard at that craft – whether it’s music, math, writing, or sports. She encouraged students to use those different things and build up their skills right now at Gililland, and use them as talent to give back to their community.

“If I was sitting where you are right now 13 years ago while being homeless, why can’t you accomplish your goals? Learn from my story, and go forward with that,” Dixon shared.

We are grateful that our teachers believe relationships make all the difference in the lives of our students, and we are so grateful for individuals like Mona Dixon who give back to our community. Relationships Matter!

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