The Perfect Role Model
I had the privilege of presenting the Be About Change scholarship to Mike Witherspoon earlier this year, at the Glencliff High School scholarship assembly. As Glencliff is the first school where we began our work with high school students, it was an honor to be at Glencliff with many friends. Mike will be attending MTSU this fall, and we look forward to hearing many more great things from him and other Glencliff students!
The Perfect Role Model
By Michael Witherspoon
In my personal experience, there is not an abundance of people who aim to leave a positive impact on someone’s life. Most people in my life do not care if they are a role model to younger people or their peers. This is not the case with my uncle Officer Tyrone Polk, Community Project Coordinator for the Birmingham Police Department. I believe that his whole purpose in life is to be a role model for his nieces and nephews, including me. He is always the first person I think of when I hear the words “positive impact.” From constant advice to the fun horseplay, it is clear that my uncle has earned the credit he is given as a positive impact in my life.
The youngest of seven kids, my uncle has probably accomplished the most out of all of his siblings. It is a common joke that he does not have a “guest room” in his home. Visiting relatives have to choose to either sleep in the “boxing trophy room” or the “police awards” room. In a family full of negativity and “crabs in a barrel” mindsets, it is very refreshing to see a family member who has accomplished so much and is still humble about it. My uncle was formerly a great boxer, a current police officer, and he has a college degree! I believe even the smartest, most-accomplished people could learn a thing or two from my uncle.
The way in which my uncle leaves the greatest possible impact is the advice that he gives me. I’ve always been afraid to talk to my parents about certain things, but “Uncle T” is always someone that I am comfortable speaking to. He has an unmatched ability to be understanding and still say things that are needed to be heard. He isn’t always shouting and yelling his opinion in order to get his point across like other people often do. He will always call me out when I am in the wrong, but his delivery makes me believe that he wants me to understand why I am wrong, rather than just feel bad about being wrong.
I appreciate a lot of things about my uncle. One thing that comes to mind is the fact that he both directly and indirectly teaches me a multitude of lessons. A direct lesson that I have learned from him is that family is not about being biologically related; it is more about who you love and trust. A simpler way to put this is “you don’t need blood to be family.” I honestly feel that is true because there are people in my life that I think I am closer to than a majority of cousins. An indirect lesson I have learned is that, “ boys don’t cry, but men do.” This doesn’t translate directly into “younger people do not drop tears, but older people do drop tears.” It means that there is a certain maturity requirement to accept that males can be emotional. Until I actually spent time with my uncle, I believed that I was not allowed to be emotional as a male. He taught me that this was not the case and I appreciate him for that.
I love my uncle and greatly appreciate him for being such an influential part of my life. When thinking of good influences, most people would look to famous athletes and/or actors. But I when I think of good influences, I know that I don’t have to look too far out of my family to see my uncle Tyrone, the perfect role model.
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