Rodney Walker

To say that Rodney Walker faced some challenges throughout his life is an understatement. Growing up on the southside of Chicago, he had some traumatic events happen in his life. From his father being incarcerated for drug use to being placed in 12 different foster homes throughout his childhood, Rodney had the choice to make. He could either let life happen to him, or he could find a way to learn, grow and persevere regardless of his past.

TOPICS


  • Academic Success
  • Black History Month
  • Diversity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Mental Health
  • Motivation & Inspiration

KEYNOTES


Rodney Walker shows that despite the odds you have the chance to grow and learn.

Getting to know

Rodney Walker

Rodney Walker is an American author, educator, entrepreneur, and inspirational speaker. He is the bestselling author of A New Day One, and is most known for his work in trauma-informed education. His award-winning keynote, The Power of Resilience: From 12 Foster Homes to Harvard University, has received acclamation from schools across the country. He has a Bachelors degree from Morehouse College and Masters degrees from Harvard and Yale University.

Rodney was diagnosed with autism in elementary school, placed in special education, repeated the fourth grade due to poor academic performance, and finished his freshman year of high school with a 1.5 GPA. Shortly after aging out of foster care in his junior year, he was homeless on the streets of Chicago, relying on his classmates’ parents and mentors for refuge. Rodney participated in an in-school youth entrepreneurship program for high school students, where he became inspired to start his first business. He is the founder of Forever Life Productions, a company that creates custom videos for special occasions and events. Along with his production company, Rodney travels all over the world to speak about the importance of trauma-informed education, entrepreneurship education, mentoring at-risk youth, and corporate philanthropy for non-profit organizations aimed to uplift and support at-risk youth.

Rodney partnered with former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to create a comprehensive employment pipeline program for disconnected youth across Chicago. In 2020, he published his 2nd book; Wounds You Can Not See: An Educator’s Guide to Cultivating Resilience and Leadership in At-Risk Youth. Rodney currently serves as a Professor of Leadership and Social Justice at his alma mater, Morehouse College. He also serves as a prison instructor in Atlanta’s Metro Reentry facility as part of Morehouse College’s Higher Education in Prisons Program.

To say that Rodney Walker faced some challenges throughout his life is an understatement. Growing up on the southside of Chicago, he had some traumatic events happen in his life. From his father being incarcerated for drug use to being placed in 12 different foster homes throughout his childhood, Rodney had the choice to make. He could either let life happen to him, or he could find a way to learn, grow and persevere regardless of his past.

With motivation from his mentors, Rodney embraced life and set out to reach his goals. He received his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, his master’s degree from Yale University, and he is now working on his Ed.D at Harvard University.

Rodney now has a fundamental philosophy – our life’s outcome has very little to do with what happens to us, but a lot to do with how we respond. By illuminating the power of positive thinking and perseverance in the presence of life’s obstacles, he believes it will have a resounding effect on college students, everywhere. By sharing his story, he is helping students overcome their past and begin the healing process so that they can be successful individuals – in school, in business, and in their lives.

PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS

To help you promote your event with Rodney, CAMPUSPEAK has created promotional templates you can use. In this folder, you will find resources for social media, a promotional poster for printing, and press photos you can use for your event.
Link to Promotional Materials

LOGISTICAL MATERIALS

Below you will find logistical resources for the day of your event with Rodney.
In-Person Event AV Needs (PDF)
Speaking Introduction (PDF)

Rodney Walker

SEE WHAT PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY About Rodney Walker!

KEYNOTES

The Power of Perseverance: From 12 Foster Homes to Yale University

Growing up in a violent neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Rodney faced tremendous adverse childhood experiences growing up in 12 foster homes. But through perseverance and mentorship, he became highly determined and resilient and went on to graduate from Morehouse College and Yale University. Now, Rodney is a Doctoral student at Harvard University.

In this keynote, Rodney speaks to students about the pain and struggles he faced throughout his life that led to him becoming the stronger, more determined, and successful person he is today. Student audiences will leave the program with the understanding that their past does not define their future and they can persevere through anything life throws their way.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the value of perseverance, and why it is an essential quality to have in overcoming life’s challenges, and
  • the 5 steps all students need to take to overcome adversity and lead a life of success, which are:
    • embrace your past
    • forgive your parents
    • create a vision board
    • adopt a mentor
    • set out to mentor someone else
The Power of T.I.M.E. – Trauma-Informed Mentorship & Education

The saying is true. T.I.M.E. (used properly) heals all wounds. In this keynote, students will be able to hear Rodney’s story of being a foster youth who graduated near the bottom of his high school class, who went on to graduate from Yale with a master’s degree by the age of 25. He shares the trauma that he experienced as a child and how he was able to start the healing process and reach his dreams, including the in-school mentorship program that inspired him.

Now, he wants to pay it forward by supporting others who may be facing some traumatic circumstances. Students will have the knowledge and tools to start their own healing process and become mentors in their own communities for others who may need support.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • about the most effective strategies for addressing childhood trauma,
  • how to best engage students in their own healing process,
  • how to motivate students to invest in their own education – without telling them to, and
  • the strategies used to build an environment of empathy and compassion in their respective school environments.
How to Become a BOLD Leader (step-by-step)

Going down the wrong path is tragic, but not because of one’s deliberate choosing to; it’s because most people never had a plan, to begin with. They let life happen to them, and life dealt them unfortunate circumstances. When you’re born in volatile conditions and circumstances, you can’t afford to let life happen, or to “go with the flow.” Having a vision, plan, and commitment to action is the only way to ensure you don’t fall victim to life’s inevitable circumstances.

The purpose of the BOLD Leader program is to teach the entrepreneurial mindset in a critical way. This keynote aims to critically engage students by shifting their focus from the outside distractions of life to their own personal growth and development. BOLD stands for the Business of Life Development. Students learn how to create a comprehensive business plan, but not for a product or service; it’s a business plan for their life.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • the importance of visualization, and why it’s important to create a vision board,
  • the steps to create a comprehensive blueprint for achieving their careers or life goals, in a relevant and engaging way, and
  • how to understand their lives from a “business” standpoint; they will understand the importance of good decision-making, and why it’s important to invest in their own growth and development.