Incoming freshmen at Meade High School filled the auditorium Tuesday afternoon, eager to hear the advice of a homeland security expert who rose from a childhood of extreme poverty in Baltimore to a leadership position at Anne Arundel Community College.
Tyrone Powers, director of the Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Institute at the School of Business & Law at AACC, spoke about the importance of education and the value of a life of discipline in order to succeed.
Powers’s 35-minute speech was part of the opening day program for ninth-graders at the high school. The event was sponsored by Meade High’s Homeland Security Signature Program.
Tuesday was the first day of the new school year for freshmen enrolled in Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
“Dr. Powers has been a long-standing supporter of our Homeland Security Signature Program, as well as the student body and community of Meade High School,” said Jim Hopper, program facilitator for the HSSP. “Dr. Powers is a leader in the educational effort to prepare our young people and grow the employee base for the national security industry.”
A Secure Career
Retired Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy, a former Fort Meade garrison commander, helped to spearhead efforts to establish HSSP in 2006. Powers was part of the advisory board that consulted on the curriculum for the program.
The program offers high school students “unique thematic courses and co-curricular opportunities that are workforce relevant and include technical, community college and four-year college pathways,” according to its website.
“The Homeland Security Explorations I and II courses incorporate technologies that are applied in practical work environments and related to homeland security and emergency management. We examine various policy measures and practices as they relate to democratic values, civil responsibilities and liberties.”
Meade High has a partnership with the Homeland Security & Criminal Justice Institute at AACC to provide instruction and field trips for students.
During his speech, Powers emphasized the value of education and its role in shaping a bright future for those who work hard and remain focused on their life goals.
“This is an extraordinary day for you as young folks,” he said. “You are embarking now on another part of your education.”
Powers said the freshman year can launch high school students on the road to success and that Meade High’s administrators and teachers are “determined to have you succeed.”
“Every single person in here today is supposed to win,” Powers said. “You are born to succeed.”
Powers advised the students to focus on their education and to be disciplined.
“You can overcome any single obstacle,” he said. “Discipline means doing what you have to do — even when you don’t want to do it. Disciplined people never fail.”
Powers warned the ninth-graders to resist peer pressure.
“Your life belongs to you,” he said. “You don’t have to succumb to their pressure.”
Powers said it only takes 20 seconds to make a decision that can ruin the rest of their lives. For example, he cautioned that the legalization of marijuana in many states is not a reason to experiment with drugs.
Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government, and possession of the drug can mean serious consequences for young people.
“Is that little high you are trying to get, worth your throwing away the next 20 years of your life?” Powers asked in regard to the stiff penalties for illegal drug use.
“All you have to do right now is focus and get your education, and your future is waiting for you.”
Powers encouraged the students to consider a career in homeland security. He said the federal government is investing close to $70 billion in the field over the next 10 to 15 years.
“If you are disciplined and focused, there will be a position for you,” he said. “You cannot only make a living, but make a life.”
After the program, 14-year-old Teah Baker said the speech inspired her to watch the company she keeps.
“I really learned to stay positive and to be around people who can help me stay focused,” she said.
Fourteen-year-old Yaw Opoku said he was encouraged to do his best.
“It was powerful and inspiring to make me work harder,” he said.