Making changes and breaking the cycle

U-News Staff

‘Pursuit of Happyness’ author speaks at Kennedy Symposium
‘Pursuit of Happyness’ author speaks at Kennedy Symposium

‘Pursuit of Happyness’ author speaks at Kennedy Symposium

Christopher Gardner, author of the memoir, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” spoke at the Robert F. Kennedy Symposium on Thursday.

Gardner built his career from the ground up with a single dream, to become one of the most successful stockbrokers in the country.

From an early age, Gardner’s mother told him he could be and could do anything he wanted.

Taking her literally, he said, “I’m going to be Miles Davis.”

As an adult, he took a position with a doctor, assisting in research, and later co-authoring several articles.

After several misfortunes, including his first and only trip to jail, Gardner ended up living in a boarding house.

Then his ex-wife dropped his son off because she “couldn’t take it anymore.”

The boarding house did not allow children so Gardner and his son were forced onto the streets.

He worked his way through many trials to build his career as a stockbroker and eventually starting his own brokerage company, Gardner Rich LLC.

He proves the American dream is still alive and well.

Gardner is not only a successful businessman; he also gives back to the community in several ways by visiting the church where he was taken in and sponsoring programs such as the National Fatherhood Initiative which encourages fathers to be more involved and committed in their children’s lives.

After his speech in the Student Union Theater, Gardner took questions from the audience.

Attendees asked questions regarding stories they had written about their own lives. Audience members also asked for advice from Gardner to give to their own children about how to cope with the loss of a father.

A student from the University of Kansas said the most important part of Gardner’s speech was, “If you have a dream, you stay determined, [and] even when things get hard, you can’t just give up.”

A student from Rockhurst University was focused on the inspirational portion of the presentation, “it was very inspiring and he reached a lot of people on a personal level by sharing his story.”

Though culturally diverse and from surrounding schools as well as UMKC. The audience largely focused on one theme: the lack of a father childhood figure.

Two female students, one a Student Government Association intern, said “Gardner’s message really hits at the core of the problem starting in the home, and it’s a very personal message.”

Gardner works to inspire another generation to break the cycle of what is learned and accepted in the home and rise above it.

In keeping with his custom of giving back to the community, he remained after the event to speak one-on-one and to autograph his memoir.

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