04 Mar 2011
- Written by Shirley Jackson
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The invitation asking Dr. Lee Jones to be the keynote speaker at the Memphis Aviation Professionals Annual Black History Youth luncheon didn’t say anything about him singing, but did not preclude him from exercising that option. The invitation asking Dr. Lee Jones to be the keynote speaker at the Memphis Aviation Professionals Annual Black History Youth luncheon didn’t say anything about him singing, but did not preclude him from exercising that option.
Dr. Lee Jones, keynote speaker, said, “I was inspired by my haters and those who said I couldn’t accomplish my goals.” (Photos by Milton Johnson)
Captain Anthony Holden, a FedEx pilot, speaks to students from Snowden Middle School about his career and experience as a pilot.
The theme was “Dare to Dream: The Sky Is the Limit.” Jones began by singing to a crowd of about 425 a moving rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly. He emphasized the words “If I Believe It, Then I Can Do It”.
“Let your haters be your motivators,” said Jones to the students representing 11 Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools. He encouraged them to pursue their dreams and goals in life. He also shared how he was inspired and determined to prove wrong those who told him he would never accomplish his goals.
Ruby Alvarez, an eighth-grader at American Way Middle School, has a budding interest in becoming an entrepreneur and said she drew inspiration from Jones’ declaration that, “If you can see up, you can get up.”
MCTAI hosts the youth luncheon annually as a celebration that highlights past achievements and promotes aspirations for the future in the field of aviation.
“The luncheon brings young people together to let them know that there is more to life than being average,” said Rory Mitchner, vice president and historian of MCTAI.
“We, the professionals in the field of aviation, have all come from humbling and diverse backgrounds. We persevered through the ups and downs in our lives to succeed in the Aviation industry,” said Mitchner, a pilot.
At each table were seated aviation community representations from Pilots in Uniforms, Mechanical Students from TN Tech, Air Traffic Controllers, and Women in Aviation.
“We wanted to allow the students to speak one on one with professionals, giving them an opportunity to ask questions and have general conversation about their journey in accomplishing their goal in the field,” Mitchner said.
Dr. Linda Lane, a counselor at Highland Oaks Middle School said, “I love going to the annual luncheons. I learn something new each time and it opens up the mind of our students who normally think about traditional careers as doctors, lawyers, police and fireman. Aviation is not a career that students usually think about. Now, we have students who are interested and feel good about seeing black aviators in person, unlike what is seen on television.”
American Way Middle School guidance counselor, Shawanna Tompkins, said, “This was very inspirational because our students learned about the history of aviation and met African Americans in Memphis and surrounding states in the aviation field.”
Some students signed up to participate in different aviation programs and summer camps to learn more about careers in the field, said Tompkins.