POINT PLEASANT — “No. Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.”
When Jedi-in-training Luke Skywalker faces the challenge of using the force to retrieve his X-wing Starfighter out of the lake it had sunken into, Jedi Master Yoda delivers this statement of encouragement. Yoda’s message of setting your mind to a task and never giving up has echoed in the minds of Star Wars fans and padawan learners for many years. While it may not be phrased like Yoda’s words, Bill Ryczaj has been delivering the same message to sixth graders all across Mason County.
On Monday and Tuesday, Ryczaj, who works as the Special Assistant to the President at West Virginia University, traveled to Point Pleasant Intermediate School, and Ashton, Beale, Leon, Roosevelt, and New Haven Elementary Schools to enforce this message and to talk to the students about their future.
“Each one of you has potential,” Ryczaj said to the students. “You’ve got to have a passion for what you do.”
At Roosevelt Elementary, Ryczaj had every student stand up to say their name and what they wanted to be when they grew up. The goal of this exercise was to get the children to introduce themselves and speak with confidence. The list of professions was extensive and included occupations ranging from pediatrician, lawyer, veterinarian, dentist, professional softball and tennis players, chef, author, electrical engineer, and a youth minister and music teacher. Several students also expressed a desire to enter the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, and the Air force.
Ryczaj also talked to the students on how important it is to show interest in something and to make a good impression. He told the children when they move up to one of the junior/senior high schools next year to sit in the front row, raise their hands a lot, and to work hard. He went on to say this skill applies to every transition they will face, including high school, college, and the work force because when all is said and done, dedication, a good work ethic and a drive for success can trump someone who only has a history of straight A’s.
Ryczaj also talked about the importance of marketing oneself to potential employers. He encouraged the students to meet as many people as possible. By doing this and staying active, students can make an impression on people like their teachers and coaches, and a recommendation from those individuals could be a deciding factor of the hiring process.
“Things aren’t going to come to you,” Ryczaj said. “You have to make it happen.”