Ariel Sweet
  Out of the Mouths of Teens:
What It Means To Dream

Ariel Sweet, national orator (age 13)

I believe that a dream is a heartfelt desire that motivates one to become equipped to handle future blessings that God has planned for one. Dreaming is more than just wishing and hoping, it is doing what is necessary to achieve success. For example, if I wanted to go to Harvard for college, I would have to work hard, study for tests, take advanced placement classes and do community service. A dream is an ongoing process that takes time to achieve. A dream is an investment in your life and a long-term investment takes commitment.

Many people in other countries such as, Iraq or Africa are so oppressed that their dreams are shattered by fear. These people fear for their lives on a daily basis. If you are constantly scared, when will you have time to dream and invest time in what you want to do? Also, sometimes people cannot pursue their dreams openly because of their circumstances. One would give a limb to even have the chance to dream. We should thank God for giving us the opportunity to dream. Often times, people are scared to succeed, but when they succeed they shock the world.

In conclusion, to dream is to be free to do whatever you want to do. In order to succeed in a dream, we must not fear failure. No matter what happens, you will fail at something at least once in your lifetime. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Failure is part of dreaming and achieving, and once you've fallen and pulled yourself up, then your success will be very sweet.

Blair Underwood
  Words of Wisdom

Blair Underwood
, Actor/Producer/ Director

Imparting advice is something I've never made a habit of, so when asked by my dear friend Danita Patterson to do so, after much hesitation, I agreed to do just that.

My philosophy had been that each of us travels such diverse and often unrelated paths to reach our life-long goals and desires, and everyone's journey is unique and therefore special. The only problem with that philosophy is that it infers we've all determined either life-long goals and/or a strategy to attain these goals/desires.

If I were to share any advice that has been passed along to me throughout the years, it would be to follow the four rules for success. When applied, consistently, persistently, with prayer and patience, anyone can and will be successful in their chosen profession:

1. Decide what you want. Set a Goal!

2. Decide what you want to give up, in order to get what you want. Sacrifice!

3. Associate with successful people in your chosen field. Listen to those who know from which they speak!

4. Plan your work and work your plan. Either “Get Busy” living or “Get Busy” dying!

Sharif Atkins
  Discovering Your Destiny

Sharif Atkins, NBC Drama Series ER, Actor

Discovering one's destiny and then striving to fulfill it is very important. It's the one fire that if put out stunts the growth of not only the individual but also humanity as a whole.

There is an old adage that asks the question "Where is the richest place on earth?" After a litany of answers such as oil fields, gold mines, tropical forests, diamond mines etc.... the correct answer is finally given. "The graveyard." Why? Because it is full of untapped potential, untouched ideas, unfulfilled dreams and undiscovered destinies.

And if you ever feel that achieving your destiny is too big of a burden, too lofty of an ideal to take hold of...just know that destiny does not have to be some unattainable concept that only a privileged few are able to indulge in pursuing.

To be in pursuit of your destiny is to be in pursuit of that switch that ignites the fire of your soul, setting the world ablaze. And then CHOOSING to keep that fire alive, avoiding the choices that would squelch it and put it out.

But even if you do fall into one of those many pits of bad judgment. DO NOT WALLOW.... don't allow it to deter you from getting back up and grasping the reigns of your destiny once again.

I look at destiny as more than just what does or does not happen to you. I look at it as a euphemism for “God's best for you”. Fulfilling one's destiny is striving to receive the best that life has to offer.

Destiny is birthed, nurtured, raised, molded and shaped out of what one thinks of oneself and subsequently the series of choices that one makes.

Think enough of yourself to choose God's best for you & your destiny!