BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) -- We all face challenges and failures, but how we respond is up to us. That’s the message a Davenport man shared with students at a leadership conference at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf Wednesday morning.
In a room full of 7th to 12 graders. Dwayne Hodges stood up tall at the podium and shared his story. He showed a picture of himself, when he was once the age many of these students in the chair are. He talked about stealing at a young age and going to jail for a drug charge that he served 10 years for.
“I want to be able to inspire that next generation to know your story could be like mine, but you have an opportunity to change that,” He said.
As a motivational speaker, he wants to show these students that your failures are also successes.
“Pushing past adversity, pushing past what people might say. All those different things and pushing past to be able to lead individuals,” said Hodges.
His speech to the more than 300 hundred students is part of “iJAGs” annual leadership conference. "iJAG" which stands for Iowa Jobs for Americas Graduates has been around since 1999. The students in attendance were able to learn about leadership skills, community service and the importance of working together through breakout sessions. The program’s focus is to build young people to be responsible and productive employees, customers, and citizens.
“Our job is to take these young people and help them see the energy and the hope in them. Bring it out and get them on a path way to a future,” said Laurie Phelan, President/CEO of iJAG.
A future that many students say they discovered by being part of iJAG.
“I want to become a biomedical scientist and work in a lab setting,” said Denise Moore, student.
For Davenport North High School junior Denise Moore. She says hearing Hodges’s story helps her know that she too can overcome her current situation.
“It's really close to home because he is from where if am from. Which really shows me that I can do big things and I can get out of here and become whatever I want to become. Now that I am in iJAG.
A man that went through hardships has now become a business owner and a motivational speaker inspiring the next generation.
Clinton Middle School will be one of the new schools to implement this program.