Ocean Researcher Tells Students Education Is The Key To Their Dreams

Sep 26, 2014

Evan Forde presenting at Van E. Blanton Elementary as part of "Back to School Day."
Credit Pattrik Simmons

Evan Forde struggled in school while growing up in Miami-Dade. He got poor grades even though his parents were educators.

Now, he’s one of the few African American oceanographers in the country.

“I wanted to look the children in the eyes, and I wanted them to remember this day. And I wanted them to remember my story,” he said. “I was poorly behaved and a poor student. One day, I woke up thinking I could do whatever I want to do in this world, that I’m here for a reason.”

Students from Van E. Blanton Elementary School in Miami Shores heard Forde speak Friday. Forde is a Columbia University graduate who’s worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since 1973.

It's part of an effort by African American leaders in more than 60 cities across the country. The fifth annual “Back to School” day of service organized by HistoryMakers, a nationwide organization that highlights the successes of hundreds of African Americans. The organization wants to encourage students to commit to their education.  

Van E. Blanton students participating in a science exercise.
Credit Pattrik Simmons

Nedgina Seraphin, a fifth-grader, was impacted by his story.

“My favorite part about today is that when he said that your past cannot equal to your future […] now I know that your future is what matters,” she said.

Before ending his presentation, Forde shared one of his biggest life lessons: the least fortunate people in the world are not those who don’t have money but those who don’t have a dream.