Ben Obomanu to speak at C.H.A.T.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

C.H.A.T. honors students for this nine weeks will learn today what it means to be a leader from a Selma native who has considerable experience with leadership.

Ben Obomanu, wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, will be speaking to C.H.A.T. Academy honors students at 9 a.m. as part of their collective recognition for academic excellence. Obomanu is himself a C.H.A.T. alum, finishing classes there in 1998.

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It will be his first time returning as a speaker.

“By being honors students, they are looked upon as being leaders of their class,” Obomanu said Tuesday.

Obomanu said just being able to come back to C.H.A.T. is something he is looking forward to. He said he usually speaks to elementary and high school students, but the middle school years are key.

“I think the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade years are a pivotal state,” Obomanu said. He added that during this time, kids can get frustrated and start losing aspiration by the time they reach high school-not going for an advanced diploma, or dropping out of school-or they can decide what to do with their future in regard to pursuing higher education and careers.

“When I was young, I developed an attitude to never be satisfied,” Obomanu said. “I think one of the biggest dangers for kids today is an attitude of complacency. You always need to have the drive and determination to keep succeeding.”

Obomanu said he believes one of the biggest issues facing youth centers in entertainment. “I think society tells us that you don’t have to be a college graduate, that you don’t have to do things correctly all of the time and be successful,” Obomanu said.

“When kids see real-life stories of people who have gone on to college and struggled, and then people who didn’t go to college and are very successful, they don’t think they have to go,” Obomanu said. “I think you should give yourself every opportunity to be successful, so you have two-way options.”

Obomanu said in his field, having something to fall back on is especially important. “The average career span for pro football players is 2.5 years,” Obomanu said, adding that he has already played for two.

Obomanu is currently taking steps to pursue another of his dreams, to be a corporate lawyer, and will be enrolling in the Harvard Business Entrepreneurial Program. He said he is fortunate to be able to pursue both.

Roosevelt Wilson, seventh-grade principal at C.H.A.T., invited Obomanu to speak because of his strong character and academics.

“I know [Obomanu] very well,” Wilson said. “He has a very impressive academic resume and that was the most important reason why I invited him to speak. Hopefully students will see him as an academic role model and try to emulate the strengths he possesses.”