“No one is coming to save you. But the good news is you can save yourself.”
That was the perspective of Webster University alumnus David Washington (MBA ’02), who was on campus Dec. 5 to talk about his inspiring journey from poverty to becoming a U.S. Army veteran and founder of his own business and training consultancy, Washington and Company.
At age 14, Washington’s family lost their sole source of income, his mother’s low wage job, and was in danger of being evicted from their modest home. While neighbors chose to sell drugs — and paid the consequences — Washington says he made the choice to piece jobs together and support his family through high school.
“As my mom always said, trouble is easy to get into and hard to get out of,” Washington said, pointing to one of the people who inspired him most.
While in the Army, he pursued his education at night and would ultimately complete two master’s degrees in 18 months before earning his doctorate, too.
His studies brought him to Webster University campus locations at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Columbia, S.C.
He visited Webster’s home campus in St. Louis to discuss the lessons and mentors that keyed his rise from poverty. Among his points of emphasis were having the courage to risk failure, to set a plan and stick to it, and to seek the help of mentors and peers along the way.
“When we’re stuck, we tend to blame circumstances and our external environment,” he said. “But the first hurdle is the internal environment. We have to get out of the trap of being the victim. We have to face what I call ‘the battle within.’”
Washington is managing partner, Washington & Company, and author of the award-winning book, Life is a Choice: A Guide to Success in Life. He is also a winner of the U.S. Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award. Learn more about his book at lifeisachoicebook.com.
His talk was part of the “Webster University Presents: Contemporary Conversations for a Connected World” series. The next event in the series welcomes Debbie Storey, Chief Diversity Officer and SVP of Talent Development for AT&T.