“You don’t have to be a high school hero,” Clint Allen counseled. “You need hard work and dedication.”
The following article appeared in the Plattsburgh Press Republican. Read the full story here.
WILLSBORO — Clinton “Clint” Allen admits that, as a student, he found exams challenging.
“I didn’t do well when I took the tests,” the former CEO of Blockbuster told Willsboro Central School juniors and seniors at a recent assembly.
He was there to support CFES and share his experiences about growing up in a low-income family and finding his way to success.
Allen was also an interim CEO of the Miami Dolphins and founder and president of the American College of Corporate Directors.
“You’re lucky to have a small school like this,” he told the Willsboro students.
Allen talked about growing up in the blue-collar factory town of Brockton, Mass., where he lived in a cold-water flat.
While his parents encouraged him to seek a better future, they could not support him financially.
“There was no CFES in my future,” he said, “though I was lucky to have two mentors: my high school football coach and a Brockton cop.
“I decided I wanted to apply to an Ivy League school.”
When Allen approached the sister superior at his Catholic high school with his Harvard application, she responded, “I will not send this in. You will lose your religion at Harvard.”
However, unbeknownst to him, his football coach surreptitiously went to her office and counteracted her actions.
“The first time I thought about what a mentor was when my cop friend told me to aim for the top and to go to a prep school for a year.
“Afterward, I reapplied and got accepted at Yale, Harvard and Princeton.”
Undecided on which school to choose, he was advised by his father: “If Harvard is good enough for the president of the U.S. (John F. Kennedy), it’s good enough for you.”
WORK FOR IT
“You don’t have to be a high school hero,” Allen counseled. “You need hard work and dedication.”
He went on to list what he called essential skills: goal setting, teamwork, leadership, agility, perseverance and networking.
Allen promoted the ideals of CFES, but also said, “You don’t have to be a college graduate. You can be a licensed electrician or plumber. Learn how to run a business.”
He said the military is also an option, “but strive to be an officer.”
“Dream a little bit, but don’t waste your dream on the NY Giants,” he quipped.
Allen and his wife, Lawson, are benefactors of several scholarships, including one for $5,000 per college year for a deserving WCS graduate.
At the session, they announced funding of an SAT preparatory course for 11th-graders.
“What we are doing is supporting a course on how to take the SAT,” Mr. Allen said. “It’s not just about how much you know.”
Mrs. Allen cited “the tools of CFES: Dream big and reach your dream. A skillset is what you need. Broaden your horizons.”
Referring to the scholarships the Allens provide, WCS Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said, “Think how much they believe in education and our school.
“These are formative years for you and your future,” he added.
TRY EVERY DAY
Mr. Allen advised the students to keep working toward their goals.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
“Nothing is worse than not having options. The only thing that can stop you is you. If you don’t have the bait in the water, you won’t catch any fish,” he concluded.
“Every day of my life I’ve tried to do something productive.”