Monti Washington shares his story and encourages audience members in the CUB ballroom. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown
Students, faculty and locals joined together to be inspired and encouraged last Wednesday, Feb. 26, as renowned actor, poet and motivational speaker, Monti Washington gave his “From the Streets to the Stage” presentation in the ballroom of the Campus Union Building.
More than a motivational speech, Washington engaged the crowd through music, poetry and one on one interaction. Washington shared his unique story of being born into poverty, living on the streets as an adolescent, experiencing abuse and neglect within the foster care system and how he rose to success and prominence despite his hardships.
Washington’s key message was the power of believing in your own abilities. Throughout his speech, he had members of the audience share some bits of their own stories. He also provided notecards for everyone in attendance to write down their goals and aspirations. Toward the end of the presentation, he took questions from the crowd and provided attentive feedback. “Him answering that question, that helped me a lot. I was really clueless on how I should go about dealing with certain situations and his answer really showed me that, I mean as long as you’ve got people on the same page as you, anything’s possible,” said Stephen Rausa, an Eastern New Mexico University student on the baseball team, and one of the audience members who asked for Washington’s advice.
Matthew Gallegos, who was in attendance with his wife, shared that the speech was very meaningful to him – especially because he was able to experience it in person. “I thought it was wonderful. I’m going through a difficult time in my life; just last year I was in a house fire and I’m going through some severe depression issues and to be honest with you, that is the biggest motivational speech I’ve had.”
Gallegos wife shared a similar sentiment. “Last July I lost my three-year-old son in a house fire and my husband was burned severely. I’m going through a lot, and this helped.” said Gallegos.
After the event, attendees lined up to meet Washington. Some merely expressed their gratitude for his work, others asked for photographs, and many asked for personal advice.
Washington shared that this had been his first visit to New Mexico, which he enjoyed. He said it offered a very different experience than other states, and he hoped to try some of the famous green chile before he left. When asked how he personally stays motivated to continue to motivate others, Washington said, “I stay motivated by staying in touch with why I’m doing it. There’s students, there’s somebody in here that needs to hear the story who needs to hear this message,” he said. “How ever I’m feeling, I get back to that later. It’s about giving. And that’s what keeps me motivated; because it’s not about me. I realize I’m living for something greater than me.” Washington also expressed his gratitude to ENMU’s Associated Student Activities Board for their work to make the event possible.