Academic support, career guidance and college preparation aren’t the only things that students in Moraine Park’s Upward Bound gain from participating in the program. Inspirational speaker Shawn Karsten had the group of 50 Beaver Dam, Ripon and Fond du Lac High School students thinking about changing their lives and the lives of others through his moving presentation.
Karsten visited Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus to share his story of tragedy, struggle and perseverance with Upward Bound students. The Ripon native has shared the same inspiring story with high school and college students in the area, region and nation.
Karsten began his story by sharing some positive memories of his father, an Emmy award-winning sports reporter. Karsten’s life began to change in high school when he realized his dad was an alcoholic and his disease was spiraling out of control. His dad ended up losing his job and reputation and taking his own life.
Following his dad’s suicide, Karsten ended up abusing alcohol and drugs. Realizing how his life was derailing, Karsten made a decision to change directions and share his story in order to help other young people. With this and other presentations, he shares the most devastating consequences of alcoholism and addiction by reaching out to help others who are struggling.
“It’s always my goal to make a difference in the group I speak to, even if it starts with just one person,” said Karsten, after sharing his story. Based on the responses from the Upward Bound students, Karsten inspired more than just one person.
“This was amazing,” said a group of students almost in unison after the presentation. Fredericka Johnson and Sara Antosch of Ripon and Debra Birch of Beaver Dam were all very moved after hearing Karsten’s story. “We didn’t know what to expect, and he ended up relating very well to our group with his experiences,” the group agreed.
“Shawn shared his story with the Upward Bound students to emphasize the need for wise choices, strong support systems, and never giving up,” said Joyce Atkins, director of the Upward Bound program. “He reminded students that they each have the power to be a positive influence in someone else’s life.”
His first time on Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus, Karsten was impressed with the facility and the Upward Bound program. “I think this group of students is unbelievable,” Karsten said. “The Upward Bound program is a great tool to ensure that these students have a successful future.”
Karsten wrapped the morning up by giving the students a call to action. “Give yourself the opportunity to change yourself and change the people around you,” he said. “You’re already starting through your involvement in the Upward Bound program.”
For more information on Moraine Park’s Upward Bound program, visit morainepark.edu/programs and click “high school opportunities.” For more information on Karsten, visit his Web site at shawnkarsten.com.