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The Opportunity Summit was a defining moment in my life

by Jahath Harriott   •  

My experience at the 2015 National Opportunity Summit was amazing. Everything from the organization of activities to the visual aesthetic of the event was on point. I got to meet a range of people from a variety of fields, all working for the improvement of our country and the world. What I learned is improving opportunities for youth is a movement that has to be addressed at a range of levels including mentorship, employment and political advocacy. I learned about the power that networking with other people with similar goals and ideas can have in organizing a movement. I was humbled by the intelligence and dedication of many of the Opportunity Leaders I met, and challenged by their insight and ideas to improve myself.

I couldn’t explain with 50,000 words, much less 500, how the Opportunity Summit affected me. It was exactly what I needed in my life. I believe it will be a defining moment in my progress and development as a human being. The positive energy was electrifying, the emotions I felt were uplifting and powerful beyond measure. The Opportunity Summit inspired me to do better, and reevaluate my purpose here on Earth. That sounds pretty drastic but I am not exaggerating here. People have noticed a change in me since I got home, and I have noticed a change in myself. Working with “at risk” youth on a daily basis, I had become frustrated with the ones who slipped through the cracks into obscurity. I had become frustrated with the long hours and low pay. The passion I had started out with had been slowly fading like the memory of a loved one who’s gone.  

Attending the Summit allowed me to realize that this movement is bigger than me, bigger than the street corners where I grew up. Just when I was at the edge of conceeding that change is impossible, the universe acted through a few dedicated individuals to rip me out of my comfort zone and place me in Washington DC at just the moment. My hope and passion were rejuvenated and multiplied by each of the amazing people I met during the Summit.

Since then, I have already shared some of the energy and motivation I was gifted. Working with the students of Gateway to College, everything has felt more natural. I was able to involve them in an activity that really promoted connectivity and growth, and I could feel the inspiration bubbling inside of each of them. I wake up each morning with a personal mission, to let the will of progress act through me and influence youth in a way that helps them achieve their personal greatness. At the same time, I was motivated to get my education back on track, and I reached out to my guidance counselor to get me into an alternative energy and sustainability program that I will hopefully be starting this summer.

I have no recommendations for how the Summit could have gone better, because to me it served its purpose in inspiring the next level of progress. For that, I am thankful.

Jahath Harriott

Jahath is an Opportunity Leader who volunteers in his community and takes an active role in developing programs for youth. He is currently a student at Massasoit Community College and part of Gateway to College. 

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