Careers & Education

FIT duo inspire students to pursue their dreams

Living to Inspire

BY NADINE WILSON Career & Education reporter

Sunday, January 05, 2014    

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IT was a plan that was hatched in their school cafeteria less than three months ago, but in no time, Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) second-year-students Jordan Samuels and Curtis Marsh were able to transform their thoughts into a movement that is now inspiring thousands of students and faculty members at the prestigious university.

Samuels, a 19-year-old Aeronautical Science major, and Marsh, a 20-year-old Aeorospace Engineering student, said they had no idea the Live to Inspire movement they started would have caught on so fast on their university campus, but the Jamaican-born students are nonetheless pleased.

"We were in the dining hall of our university just talking, and I was supposed to be doing a testimony video to send back to Jamaica to the Aviation Club Jamaica as a testimony of me leaving from that club to study at FIT, and Jordan was telling me that he was supposed to do a video as well to send back to his church, so we were saying, 'let's do one video and merge it together and send back," said Marsh.

"Then we were saying, why just send one video? Why not make this a continuous thing and send more and more inspirational videos back home to inspire people? And we also expanded it to the university," he said.

That discussion took place in September of last year, and since that time Live to Inspire membership has grown from two to 30. The group essentially makes inspirational videos which they post on social networking sites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter ,with the aim of sharing how God has helped them throughout the course of their studies. Samuels currently has a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) while Marsh's GPA score now stands at 3.3.

"Basically, when they saw Curtis and I doing what we are doing, people started taking on to the positivity that it was bringing across," said Samuels, who had also graduated from the Caribbean Aerospace College with a 3.8 GPA .

"People saw it as something different, because even one of the students came to us one night and said he didn't expect that, especially coming from a Caribbean student, because Caribbean students are known for the partying, the wild lifestyle, and it was like they found it odd that two Jamaicans were doing something that is positive and God-related," he noted.

The initiative received even more mileage when it was publicly endorsed by the president of the university, Dr Anthony James Catanese, and plans are already underway to have the group featured in the school's magazine for the coming year. The movement has also sparked a business venture for the two young men.

"It started to catch people's attention all around campus and then people see our shirts as we walk and they would request and order shirts. So now we sell shirts as well," Samuels explained.

Both Samuels and Marsh had attended the Meadowbrook High School, but the two were in different circles then. Marsh had been the captain of the school's Manning Cup football team and also the deputy head boy, while Samuels said he was mostly focused on academics. However, their Christian faith was the catalyst for a good friendship when they enrolled at FIT, and they gradually realised that they also had a lot more in common.

"We didn't just want to inspire people. You know when you see an inspirational video and people say 'ok, just believe in what you are doing and you will be successful?' We wanted to tell people to believe in God, because God is the medium through which riches and success come," said Marsh.

Their upbringing, they said, is similar in the sense that they did not have many of the luxuries enjoyed by other children, and they were raised by Christian women who worked extremely hard to ensure that they could realise their dreams of going into the aeronautics field. Samuels' mother, Denise Samuels, is a Human Resource manager at the Transport Authority, while Marsh's mother, Monica Brown, has been working in the early childhood sector for many years. It is to these women that the young men give credit for their achievements.

"My mother has the spirit of a fighter, whereby she would work hard for what she has and she would strive to attain what she has," said Samuels, before Marsh chimed in, "Seeing my mother's life and seeing her being a fighter, it really, really motivated me to want to make it, so that I can make sure that she is okay."

While Marsh's dream after leaving FIT is to work at the international aircraft company Boeing so that he can be around aeroplanes and design new concepts for the aerospace inudustry, Samuels wants to be a pilot and is currently doing flight lessons along with his studies so he can get his private pilot's licence in the coming weeks.

"The urge came from watching National Geography and their documentary about aeroplanes. I always had a mind for the way how they work and had hopes that one day I would fly," said Samuels as he explained the reason behind his career choice.

In addition to leading the Live to Inspire initiative, both young men also started a Bible study group on campus and are also the leaders for their Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Marsh also plays football for the Caribbean Student Association on campus.

Going forward, Samuels and Marsh said they will be working on more projects to inspire youths and increase the number of Live to Inspire paraphernalia so other students can be associated with the movement.

"You find that a lot of people are now begining to want to be a part of this movement, because they realise that this movement is not something that we just make up overnight and plan to abandon it later down the road, but they see that we are serious people and we have this burning passion to carry out the purpose of the group," Samuels said.

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