Many students in high school and college today face pressures to conform in the career they are planning, to fit into a standard pattern—even when inspiration may be calling them in a different direction. Many feel pushed to commit to one career track before they are really comfortable closing off other options. To someone in this position, personal fulfillment can seem like the opposite path from financial security. Students at this crossroads can feel trapped in a no-win situation as they confront some of the most important choices that will shape the rest of their lives.
The positive path can be a blank mystery for those who have never seen it in real life. Without experiencing the help of a trail-blazer, it is easy to believe that career fulfillment is only for the famous and the lucky.
Everywhere around us we see struggling, stressful working adults who have resigned themselves to the belief that making a living means a life of more or less drudgery. Every semester thousands more promising students give up on the hope of career fulfillment and commit themselves to taking a path to more or less unhappy adulthood.
A young person in the formative stage of career development vitally needs to see the example of someone who demonstrates that a happier path is possible and reveals what taking that path looks like. They need a model from whom to learn the tremendous power of confidence, and they need encouragement to help them listen to the quiet voice of inspiration.
Dr. David West Reynolds started out as a cafeteria janitor with no money and no family connections. He mopped his way through his first years at college without any idea what his future was going to look like.
Since then, in his wide-ranging career Dr. Reynolds has done things over and over again that people told him were impossible. His career path has broken one barrier after another as he has pursued his interests and passions wherever they have led. Even a very brief resume of Dr. Reynolds’ career quickly starts to sound like fantasy, but it’s all very real.
David West Reynolds went directly from earning a Ph.D in archaeology to working in Hollywood marketing. For George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars movies, Reynolds built one of the world’s top 100 websites by traffic. Reynolds cut a Star Wars theatrical trailer that caught the attention of Apple founder Steve Jobs when it was downloaded 35 million times, and Reynolds’ Star Wars guidebooks rose in the charts until the young archaeologist had become a New York Times #1 best-selling author.
From this foundation of professional freedom Reynolds’ career has ranged from writing space history with NASA to digging up and helping name a new species of dinosaur; he has worked in Egypt and in the Andes and has served on an arctic mission aboard an icebreaker; he has worked for the BBC, for National Geographic, and for the Discovery Channel; and delivered programs at major museums across the United States and Canada.
“The principal value of this program is inspiration,” Reynolds says, “because I totally blow away the false idea that we have to conform to the career limitations other people want to put on us. But I also teach specific techniques that I have used to make all this happen. Confidence-building is extremely important. When you have confidence you can see a path that no one else can see.
"The story of my career dramatizes the truly limitless possibilities in front of young people, and I teach them courage to believe that they really can achieve their own dreams if they try."
The kind of guidance and encouragement that this program offers is all too rare, which is why students and faculty endorse it so strongly.
"In an age of cynicism, students of all backgrounds showed how thirsty they are for the optimism Dr. Reynolds conveyed. He inspired them, encouraged them, made them laugh, and embodied how to find joy in exploring the world.
Students raved about his storytelling, his unique experiences, and about how personable he is.
I recommend David West Reynolds for students of any age, but particularly for students in the early years of college who often are pressured to conform to others’ expectations rather than believe in, and work for, a journey that is right for them."
—Prof. Pedar W. Foss, DePauw University
"I can’t begin to express the positive impact the event with Dr. David West Reynolds had on me. From time to time I get to read about scholars and other amazing people in the news, but to be able to sit down and talk to a “Renaissance Man” like Dr. Reynolds was just a fabulous experience. This was clearly one of the highlights of my year.”
—Morgan C., Drake High School Student, California
I wanted to reach out to thank you for being an advocate, that one voice to express the urgency of following your passions and not falling into the trap of complacency. Your presentations were truly inspiring. You have emboldened me and given me courage to explore and find out where my interests lie while still remaining grounded.
—Eric L., University Student, Indiana
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