Naval Surface Forces Officer Promotes Leadership at Compton High School
By Commander, Naval Surface Forces Diversity Directorate
COMPTON, Calif. – Lt. Cmdr. Jaja Marshall, Diversity Directorate action officer for Naval Surface Forces, and Lt. Julian Harris from the Branch Dental Clinic at Naval Air Station North Island, represented the U.S. Navy May 22 at Compton High School, where they addressed 85 students and faculty members attending the Tavis Smiley nationwide Talented TENth Tour.

Marshall and Harris were selected by Commander, Navy Recruiting Command (CNRC) to take part in the visit with Smiley, a renowned journalist/talk show host, to inspire tomorrow's leaders to make a difference.

"I was honored to represent our Navy at historic Compton High School,” Marshall said. “Compton's students showed exceptional talent and enthusiasm for making themselves better leaders."

The Talented TENth represents the top ten percent of high school students who will hopefully make the world better by achieving greater purpose. Through the joint project with CNRC, Smiley has empowered high school educators to nominate select students in the top ten percent to hear his presentation.

"There is no obstacle that prevents you from making a difference in the community or the world," said Smiley to students in attendance.

During his self-improvement and inspirational message, Smiley challenges students to read "The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers" and write an essay on who in the book inspired them and why. Essays will later be posted on website for judging, and the chosen winner will get to read their essay on Smiley’s syndicated radio show.

“The students showed great interest in learning the story of the Golden Thirteen and writing an essay about who inspired them most,” Marshall said.

In addition to discussing the Golden Thirteen, Smiley noted that one cannot be a leader "if you don't love people, and one cannot save people if you do not serve people." He wrapped up his presentation by sharing his three C's for success -- courage, conviction, and commitment -- which closely relate to the Navy's core values of honor, courage, and commitment.

Marshall and Harris followed Smiley’s presentation with a discussion of educational opportunities available in the Navy and answered questions from students, who were surprised the Navy offered careers in dentistry, law and public affairs. Afterwards, the officers presented students with a Navy toolbox, including a Navy t-shirt, brochures about education opportunities, and a personal copy of “The Golden Thirteen.”

Compton High School student Randall White remarked, "It was very nice for Tavis Smiley and the U.S. Navy to visit us and speak about leadership. Their speeches will inspire us to become leaders."

Anitra Harris, Compton High School's director librarian stated, "Guests are pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and talent they see from our students. Compton High is a place where parents, teachers, and students want to come and guests don't leave disappointed."

Marshall said that he hoped that he “inspired a young leader to become a future Navy officer" and indicated that it was “a tremendous opportunity to speak to the youth of our nation about education opportunities.”

He added, “I think it is great to team with leaders within the African American community such as Tavis Smiley who share similar goals such as producing leaders. Our nation’s future looks bright.”
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