Being a first-generation college student himself, Oklahoma State University’s men’s basketball coach Mike Boynton Jr. took to the stage at the McKnight Center on Sept. 27 to motivate first-generation and leadership students.
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, with four sisters and no brothers, is what drove him to sports he said.
“Sports opened up doors for me that I’m not sure I would have had otherwise,” Boynton said. “We didn’t come from a whole lot of money.”
Earning a scholarship for basketball, Boynton was able to attend the University of South Carolina in 2000.
“I really was unaware of what to expect,” Boynton said. “I really didn’t have anyone to ask what the experience was going to be like, or anyone to tell me what type of struggles I may experience.”
Unfortunately, this is a struggle first-generation students may know all too well.
“My college experience really gave me the opportunity to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, because I went into school thinking I was going to go to law school after I graduated in 2003, but I was really confident I wanted to be a coach”.
His quotes are a great example of how your college experience may lead you to discover new passions in life. He also advised students who face adversity to not be discouraged by their situation.
“Use that adversity to learn, to grow, and to find out how significant your will is and how much determination you have on the inside,” Boynton said.
He also advised the freshmen to embrace the experience and use assets offered to the university.
“Try to get involved in the campus, and obviously in the age of covid [sic] things are much different than when I was in school, Boynton said. “There are still opportunities out there you just have to work a little harder to find them.”
Of course, Boynton, who came from New York, was met with a different type of culture in South Carolina. He was exposed to different ways of thinking and had the opportunity to meet all different types of people throughout his journey.
He urged students to challenge themselves and get to know individuals from different types of backgrounds and expand.
“We aren’t enemies just because we don’t think the same about everything,” Boynton said.
With people from different parts of the country attending OSU, campus may be the perfect place to achieve this goal.
Bayton encourages freshmen and first-generation students to get outside their comfort zone, and take on challenging tasks in order to learn and expand and to not be afraid to fall down at times.
“You can’t fear failure,” Boynton said. “It’s an inevitable part of success.”