The Lesson: It is crucial to ensure that those who face daunting challenges in their lives—physical disabilities, autism, deafness, disease or stuttering—come to know that their dreams are, in fact, possible to achieve, even thought it may seem like they are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Notable Excerpt: ‘In my commencement address, I mentioned some of the square pegs throughout history who reshaped our round world, not by overcoming their challenges, but by persisting in the face of them. I mentioned that Beethoven listened to his calling despite being deaf and that FDR ran for office despite being unable to walk. Now, without diminishing their tremendous impact on our world, their moments in time are spaced out a bit too far from ours. We therefore need new examples. We therefore need you. We need you because when you break through a round hole and when you stick out for doing so, you push others forward. If you’re a would-be medical researcher, wondering if being on the autism spectrum should prevent you from pursuing that path, know that there is going to be a similar square peg … who just might be the missing puzzle piece needed to help find the cure for cancer. That someone, somewhere is waiting on you to stick out and to give them that push forward.”
The Speaker: At just 4 years old, Parker Mantell developed a stutter and started undergoing rigorous speech therapy. Then, in 2014, he delivered the Indiana University commencement address, which was viewed in more than 200 counties and featured by such news outlets as CNN, TODAY, and People. Following his address, Mantell traveled the country to speak at conferences, universities, and high schools about his experience with changing the world through our different abilities.
(LISTEN to the inspiring talk below)
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