If you need a bit of inspiration and motivation, this speech is it.
Indiana University’s Parker Mantell stepped to the podium to say a few words to his fellow graduating classmates and before he even began admitted he might not have been the most obvious choice to give a commencement speech.
“As a person who stutters, I can be no more certain that, in this room and in this hall, are thousands of people who far more talented at public speaking than I am,” he said. At the same time, however, I can be no more certain that the message I have to share is one that must be heard.”
Mantell, who graduated May 10 with a political science degree, urged his classmates to rise above any doubts they have about their abilities.
He cited Beethoven’s deafness, Ray Charles’ blindness and Albert Einstein’s dyslexia as examples of disabilities that failed to get in the way of their success.
Mantell said President Franklin Roosevelt “couldn’t walk. Imagine if he had never dared to run. Imagine what you are depriving our world of if you never dare to achieve your purpose.”
The 21-year-old says his speech was all about encouraging his fellow students.
“I felt incredibly blessed to be presented with the platform to inspire others,” he told TODAY.com. “It is my greatest hope that I have done so in the days following my speech. Ultimately, however, none of this is about me or what I have done, it’s about people becoming what I know they can be.”
Selected for the opportunity after responding to a call for applications, Martell told TODAY.com he knew speaking in front of over 17,000 people “would be nerve-wracking” but that he didn’t want to regret not taking the chance.
He prepared for the commencement address by videotaping himself practicing every day and taking notes on his performance.
In his speech, Mantell credits Indiana University for pushing him beyond his expectations, rather than keeping them in check because of his speech impediment.
That encouraged him to go after numerous high-profile internships that found him answering calls for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, conducting tours of the Capitol for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and working in the office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Martell, who says he’d like to pursue a career in public service — whether that be through government, politics or law — urged his classmates to reach for their dreams, regardless of the challenges that lie before them.