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FedEx Blog

Students’ Perspectives: A look at the Magic Johnson Scholarship Conference

August 29, 2011

magic johnson speakingName: Penn Hansa
From Atlanta, attending the University of Georgia as a freshman this year; major is Publication Management/Pre-Journalism.

Family Values with MC360

If I told you that my family consisted of over 113 people of different races and lifestyles, would you believe me? Hey, it’s true.

The Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program from the Magic Johnson foundation brought together their scholars annually for a leadership conference in Los Angeles, which was generously sponsored in part by FedEx. If you could imagine a place where people from different backgrounds, from all across the United States congregated to become one big family, I don’t think I would think of the Sunken Garden at Loyola Marymount University. The setting was beautiful, sure the soft, green grass and the palm trees swaying in the breeze – but not necessarily a place I would think I would make friendships to last me a lifetime.

But in three hours of racing through obstacle courses, bobbing for apples, and doing generally competitive and embarrassing activities organized by MC360, we – all 113 scholars – walked away with our muscles sore but our emotions running high. We were a more united front because through all the activities, whether it was the 60-second Oreo Challenge or the blindfolded obstacle course, we learned how to rely on each other, support one another, and be ourselves.

Towards the end of the third hour, we all came together to do an activity called the Spirit Walk. We all stood in one line and the activity leader would state a fact. If the fact was relevant to us, we would walk to the other side. The leader would then say solemnly, “Now look to see who is with you and who is not.”

The facts started out easy – “I have a pet” or “I’ve never traveled outside of the country” – but then turned more personal and even controversial. It made all of us realize that no matter what a person looks like on the outside, they have their own issues and problems on the inside and we shouldn’t judge our own peers for what we can’t see.


Name: Chela Elan Counts
Brief Bio:
Chela Counts is a 20-year-old junior at Western Kentucky University majoring in News & Editorial Journalism. She is a general reporter and sports journalist at her schools newspaper, the College Heights Herald. Her future goals include writing and traveling for newspapers and magazines across the globe.

Get Inspired & Get Going!

mj groupEvery now and then we all need that extra push and wake up call to reignite our spirits and get us going again, and for me, attending the annual Magic Johnson Foundation/Taylor K. Michaels Scholarship Conference does just that!

This year like every other year, my fellow scholars and I were mentored, advised and given a plan on how to continue on in our journeys to success for five days on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, but something was different this time around for me. It’s as if the information I was receiving I was finally ready to apply and use in my everyday task. From a highly engaged 10 step plan on “How to Win In & Out of the Classroom,” presented by Mr. Magic Johnson himself, to a pep talk with FedEx’s own Senior VP, Mr. Shannon Brown, I was already anxious to return home and share all of the knowledge I gained with family and friends.

“Either you’re at the table or on the menu,” Mr. Brown said. In life and in business we can either choose to make the decisions or simply settle for being just another item on the menu. I, myself, have chosen to sit at the table, give 110% effort and take part in my own life.

As an out of state college student, time and time again I must remind myself that whatever I want, I have to go for it. I will always set myself up to win by using the tools given to me by Mr. Johnson: time management, keeping a positive attitude, using discipline and following through are just a few.

Along with preparing myself for my future, each day at the conference I was reminded to have fun and make great relationships with those who are where I want to be. As a rising junior in school and in the program, the friends I have connected with at this scholarship are still my friends to date. We too, will one day be walking across the stage receiving our diplomas and sharing our knowledge with fellow TMSP scholars. I truly am the communities that I serve! Get inspired, get going and take action!


Name: Stephen Bardo
Student bio:
From Chicago attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign currently majoring in English and minor in Spanish

Taylor Made

mj planeI had been looking forward to the 2011 Taylor Michael’s Leadership Conference since getting on the plane to go back home to Chicago after last year’s conference ended. I learned lots of valuable information, met many people who would be able to help me when I enter the workplace, and best of all, I made friends with many of my fellow scholars from all over the country. I couldn’t wait to see them again and discuss and compare our experiences from the past year during breaks between workshops and at the end of the day. It would be safe to say that I had it all planned out in my head.

But to my surprise, the Magic Johnson Foundation (MJF), along with FedEx as the title sponsor had some changes in store for us. As far as I know, the Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program (TMSP) has always been an event during which scholars are able to network, meet potential mentors, and gain valuable information from a number of successful, relatable individuals who share similar backgrounds and experiences. But this year, in addition to all of that, there were a number of activities that allowed us scholars to learn more about each other – from ice skating in Culver City, to the movie night, to my personal favorite, the MC360 workshop.

Not only did this particular part of the conference take us out of the conference room and outside in the fresh, Los Angeles air, it gave us an opportunity to enjoy the scenery of Loyola Marymount’s campus. It also allowed us to build camaraderie amongst each other and interact with some of the scholars outside of our groups of friends, reinforcing the family feeling that comes with being a Taylor Michaels Scholar.

We were put into teams and/or given partners and given the challenge of completing obstacle courses, solving riddles, competing against other groups in various tests of athleticism and leading our blindfolded partners through a number of tasks, all the while building trust and friendship. And just in case that wasn’t enough, we did a ‘Spirit Walk’ that brought us even closer by showing us how we all face similar challenges and have similar beliefs. Seeing how much I had in common with my fellow scholars made me feel that each of us had been hand-picked by the MJF Steering Committee and that this group was “Taylor made.”

I left the workshop with a feeling of closeness to my fellow scholars, fatigue, and with a better understanding of the TMSP scholars as a whole.  Although the conference didn’t go exactly as I had planned it in my head, I feel that the changes were for the best, as they allowed me personally to get to know and understand my fellow scholars better than I did last year. Maybe next year I’ll leave the planning to FedEx and the Magic Johnson Foundation.

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