RALEIGH — Pre-marital sex, divorce, drug abuse, and school violence can have a profound effect on teenagers. Students at Enloe High School have been offered motivation before, but not from anyone like Michael Chatman.
"Well, what doesn't work is preaching. You have to build a sense of trust, a sense of credibility," Chatman says.
"Nobody in my family has ever graduated from high school," Chatman tells the group. "My family chose to raise me in a one bedroom apartment in the government projects on welfare and food stamps."
Michael Chatman's childhood included membership in a Miami gang, trouble with the law, and a father who physically abused his mother.
"I made the choice to raise my standards," Chatman says. He says his positive choices came from hearing positive messages. "I kept hearing those golden nuggets -- life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you choose to react to it."
Chatman went on to graduate from high school and college. He's written a book, and started a training program for urban youth leaders in Miami, Florida. And his message reaches all the way to Raleigh.
Enloe student Empress Hughes says his message inspires her to overcome a difficult home life. "If I go ahead and put my school work first, then I can excel in other areas."
Adam Weatherford agrees. "Last year I was failing classes left and right. But this summer I sat back and looked at things, and just like he was saying, it's all in how you react to what comes. And now I'm making straight A's."
Chatman expects students to walk away with their own individual take on his story. "I give them things that they should consider. They take what I say and run it through their personal filter, and they come to their own conclusions as to what I say can work for them."
Anheuser Busch and Harris Wholesale sponsor Michael Chatman's speaking tour of schools, in Raleigh and across the country.