How Rocky Can be its Best, One Student at a Time

Advice from “Professional Teenager” Mike Smith


Ravyn Cullor

Mike Smith

Aaron Lambert, Staff Member

Mike Smith is a “professional teenager” from Imperial, Nebraska. During his senior year of high school he went through a period of self-discovery in which he realized he was not proud of the person he had become and wished to change his lifestyle for the better. He decided to dedicate his life to philanthropy, motivational speaking, and social justice. His mantra is “standing for the weak and speaking for the broken,” which is tattooed on his forearm. He travels the country doing motivational speaking to improve culture and community in schools and businesses. These are some pieces of advice from him to improve yourself and your school.

Relationships are the difference between a good school and a great school

If everyone just goes to school together, we don’t have a community. Being part of a good community means people having relationships and being connected to one another. It is why we stress the importance of the Lobo Way and our sense of family. Relationships are important and if we commit to building them, our school gets better.

Tests do not define you

It is hard to hear this because test scores are important. Data and assessment is part of college application, school performance, and an indicator of performance in professional life. However, what your test scores say doesn’t mean you are a certain type of person. They shouldn’t discourage you or make you feel limited. A person’s value and personality are not defined by a test score.

Understand the power of an act of kindness

People making other people feel important is an awesome thing. Giving someone a ride, holding a door, smiling in the hallway, giving a high five. There are plenty of free, easy-to-do things that make our school a better place. Care about it a little, and everything gets better.

Helping people happens when nobody’s watching. ”

— Mike Smith

Volunteer for results, not your personal image

There’s something nice about volunteering and doing something kind. It makes us feel good and that’s natural. But when we look outside ourselves to participate in philanthropy it should be motivated by doing something good, not to make ourselves look better. It’s nice to put volunteering on a resume or feel good about the work you’re doing. You should feel good about helping people. But if you’re doing something charitable, then do it for the results and the good you’re accomplishing, not the feeling and addition to your college application. Helping people happens when nobody’s watching.

Don’t be an “I’m better than you because ___” person

Appreciate people for the sake of them being people. It doesn’t matter what they do or what they think. Everyone here is involved in making the community of Rocky happen, and it is important to acknowledge everyone’s place here.

Some are sayers, some are wishers, and some are doers.

Anyone can talk and anyone can hope. What makes someone special is taking their idea and turning it into action. If you see a need, do something. Be a doer.