Governor Deval Patrick engaged in a panel discussion at Bridgewater State University Wednesday afternoon, celebrating Black History Month and encouraging all in attendance to “let their reach exceed their grasp.”
The four-person panel included Governor Patrick, BSU President Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, Administrative Judge Yvonne Vieira-Cardoza, and Davede Alexander.
Dr. Mohler-Faria opened the event by encouraging students to not only think of Black History Month in retrospective, but to also think about it as looking o
Governor Patrick, who suggested the format of the event, felt the engagement and talking back- and- forth resulted in “much more fun,” than just talking at the audience.
“The questions were great, really, really terrific,” Governor Patrick said, “I wish we had more time to take more of them.”
Specific audience questions included topics of overcoming obstacles and fears to become “somebody.”
Governor Patrick said his biggest setback was failing his Bar Exam, twice. “I thought, ‘wait a sec, that’s not supposed to happen to me’,” he said, “I took it again, and I failed again…The happy ending, by the way, is I passed.”
Governor Patrick added that it was a “real blow” to his sense of self at the time, but he worked through it and kept moving forward.
Dr. Mohler-Faria added that his biggest setback was when he ran out of money to complete his graduate program at Boston University. He said that when he told the President of Cape Cod Community College at the time, James Hall, of his decision, Hall handed him a check and told him, “This is my investment in the future.”
When the panel was asked what their biggest fear was growing up, they all gave similar answers of letting down the people in their lives who had believed in them all along.
Governor Patrick specifically referenced his 6th grade teacher, whom he says believed in him, and thus, taught him the confidence he needed to believe in himself.
“It’s continuing to let your reach exceed your grasp,” Governor Patrick said, “It’s not being defeated by your setbacks, but instead learning from them. It really goes to that quote of the late, great Dr. Benjamin Mays…who said that ‘not failure, but low aim is sin’.”
Dr. Mohler-Faria echoed Governor Patrick’s sentiments, advising students to never let anyone tell them they cannot accomplish something.
In closing remarks, Vieira-Cardoza advised the audience to always surround themselves with positive people because “negativity will bring you down,” she said.
Governor Patrick added that there is more in us than we think. “There is more grit, more creativity, more imagination, more determination, more grace and more love than we think,” he said, “And when we go find it and bring it out, not only does it make the lives of those around you better, it makes your own life better.”
Governor Patrick closed the event by saying to the future generation: “the world needs what you have inside you.”