This speech was originally given on September 15th, 2013 at East High School in Bakersfield, California:
I know you guys expect me to come up here and bitch, moan and give a speech about how hard my life has been because I was born with a disability but the truth is it hasn’t. Everything I am today is because of two things, ridiculous work ethic and the greatest parents anybody could ask for.
Everybody thinks I was bullied in school. I never was. I don’t know why, but it never happened. From kindergarten until fourth grade I had to walk with a walker and a bicycle helmet during school hours because the school couldn’t be liable for me falling and busting my head open. Outside of school however, there was no walker or helmet. And I’d fall a lot. My Dad at that time was really good friends with one of the high school’s teachers, who later became my first mentor. He still reminds me until this day, my father and him were hanging out and I fell in front of them. He went to help me up and my Dad stopped him and said, “Let him get up on his own, handicapped people can struggle too”. I had no idea of it then but that philosophy has been the foundation to my life.
In short, we as individuals are quick to make excuses for ourselves. I can never accomplish this because of that. I could never get a date with that girl because of some bullshit excuse. I am where I am because I make up my mind. Once I decide to do something its going to happen or I will spend my last breath trying.
I don’t know why but I’ve always had a passion for technology. So, in high school I ran into my school’s network administrator in the library who was my Dad’s buddy back in the day. I told him I had an interest in computers and I’d work for him for free to learn after school hours. He agreed. Within a year he hired me. By the time I was a senior, I was employed by them, Taft College and consulting for McKitrik Elementary school.
I then went off to attend CSUB. My parents didn’t want me to work the first year. I made it a quarter. That winter I dropped off my application for the IT support team on campus. I thought for sure with my experience they’d be begging me to join their team. A week went by. Nothing. I then got into the habit of calling the director every single day when I woke up. Everyday, voicemail for 3 weeks. Then one day, I was on a date and was waiting for her to use the restroom so I decided to call. To my surprise, he picked up, “Chester! I have your resume in my hand. Can you come by right now?” Both my date and I ran back to campus and went directly to his office and he hired me on the spot.
Two years went by and my reputation spread. I was working for three different departments in addition to being a full time student. Then I was put on academic probation because my focus was work and not academics. I had filed for a company a few months before because I wanted to support a local business but hadn’t done anything before. So I decided to drop out, move back home and build it. Three years went by before I was able to support myself. I’m now in year six and we are constantly signing bigger and bigger deals.
To sum up, everything I’ve ever accomplished was because of one thing: effort. Disability, no disability, white, black, gay or straight. Just make an honest effort. Everything seems to work itself out.