Arshay Cooper, the award-winning author of his memoir, A Most Beautiful Thing, held a Zoom conference with St. Francis High School juniors on Thursday, November 10. Junior English classes recently finished reading his memoir and had the opportunity to ask him questions during the conference.
The book details his journey as a part of the first African American high-school rowing team from the West Side of Chicago and how it helped him overcome the traumas of growing up amongst cycles of poverty in his youth.
Cooper encouraged students to focus on qualities such as hope, freedom, peace, and change to solve issues like bullying and fear and to take advantage of the opportunities they are afforded.
When asked by a student which opportunities they should focus on, Cooper said to “chase impact over income” and choose “what feeds your soul and elevates others.”
He also reminded students that when successful athletes are asked what their coaches taught them it is usually not an athletic skill like dribbling but personal qualities like trust, leadership, and perseverance.
He closed with the reminder that self-doubt is often our biggest enemy.
“I challenge you to encourage yourself and tell yourself you’re good enough,” he said. “Treat yourself and love yourself the way you do your family and friends.”
Cooper’s book was also made into an award-winning 2020 documentary film narrated by Common and produced by Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade, and 9th Wonder, by filmmaker Mary Mazzio.
We thank Mr. Cooper for his time and for sharing his story with our students – we are truly grateful for this outstanding opportunity!