On Thursday, USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative hosted Gene Simmons at the University Club as a guest speaker for 60 students currently in the program.Path to success · Former KISS star Gene Simmons speaks to Neighborhood Academic Initiative participants at the University Club on Thursday evening about his own experiences facing adversity as an immigrant. – Austin Vogel | Daily TrojanOthers in attendance included Pavel Krapivin, vice president of Warner Bros. and former student of the USC Math, Science and Technology High School, and Kim Thomas-Barrio, executive director of NAI.NAI is a college access and success program with neighborhood students in grades six through 12 in conjunction with the university.“[This program] allows the academic rigor students need and the support families need for first generation college-goers from underrepresented minority groups,” Thomas-Barrios said.Since its first graduating class in 1997, NAI has graduated more than 700 students. Forty percent of those graduates attended USC with a full four-and-a-half year scholarship package, not including loans.“All of this is in a neighborhood where about 50 percent of the students who attend neighborhood high schools drop out before graduating from high school,” Thomas-Barrios said.Thomas-Barrios said the decision to have Gene Simmons speak to a group of NAI students was an easy one for her and colleagues, who knew that students could relate well to Simmons, who immigrated to the United States from Israel with his mother when he was only 9 years old.“I am you; you are me,” Simmons said. “I wasn’t born here … when I first came to the United States of America, I heard the words, ‘What are you, stupid? Can’t you speak English?’”Simmons, like many of the students at the USC magnet schools, did not speak English as a first language. Simmons encouraged every student to do what he did: work as hard as possible each and every day, rather than giving up in the face of adversity.“When you take a look at the most powerful people in the world, they’re not the prettiest, they’re not the tallest … they may not be the smartest. They worked the hardest,” Simmons said.Pavel Krapivin, a colleague of Simmons’ and a former student of Thomas-Barrios’, was also able to relate to the current students of NAI as an immigrant who did not speak English as his first language, but taught it to himself by reading science textbooks.Krapivin, who attended USC after high school, has stayed close to NAI and his former professor and principal. His success story is one of the many inspirations current NAI students have.“When the school opened, I wanted to come here to learn, and I am very happy to come back here because all of you are going to do great things and once you do, you’ll want to give back,” Krapivin told the students. “It feels good to come back and to do things for other people.”Simmons, known for his role in the rock band KISS, encouraged students to ignore unsupportive people and to always believe that they are extraordinary.“Anybody that makes you feel bad, get rid of them — get them out of your life,” Simmons said. “You don’t have time for them, because they’re just vampires — they’re going to suck the life out of you.”One of the things Simmons emphasized to the students was that nobody was stopping them from succeeding except themselves.“All the information in the world, finally, for the first time in history, is available to you and to the richest and the most powerful, for free. … There’s nothing preventing you from scaling the heights — nothing — except you. All the opportunity you’ve got here, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
December 26, 2019
IN DEMAND 1 targets Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ LATEST REVEALED Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star Cavani ‘agrees’ to join new club and will complete free transfer next summer targets Kevin De Bruyne ‘loves Man City and wants to keep winning’, reveals father Man United joined by three other clubs in race for Erling Haaland Fulham have reportedly turned down a £20m West Ham bid for their captain Tom Cairney.According to Sky, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are back chasing the midfielder after missing out on him in January. LIVING THE DREAM Chelsea confident of beating Man United and Liverpool to Sancho signing Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti RANKED three-way race TOP WORK However, Fulham appear to be far from happy to let one of their star players leave as they prepare for their first season back in the Premier League.The Cottagers finished third in the Championship last season and were promoted through the play-offs, with Cairney scoring the winning goal against Aston Villa in the final.Cairney was said to be keen on the West Ham move when it was first mooted back in January, though this may have changed now his current club have been promoted. Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January Liverpool’s signings under Michael Edwards – will Minamino be the next big hit? Transfer News Cairney celebrates his play-off final winner moving on The Hammers have also been linked with moves for Joaquin Correa, Jack Wilshere and Jean Michael Seri as they look to bolster their midfield.So far they have signed Issa Diop, Lukasz Fabianski and Ryan Fredericks.