GHS senior: Time in governor's page program eye-opening
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 21, 2010 12:42 PM
Michael King is like any typical teenager -- he favors jeans and sneakers as a daily fashion choice.
But when he was selected to be a Governor's Page in Raleigh recently, it didn't take him long to realize the importance of dressing to impress.
"You have to abide by a dress code," he said. "You have to have a suit and tie."
However, the 18-year-old senior from Goldsboro High School didn't really have any dress clothes.
Fortunately, he did have supporters.
"I had people to help me out, people in the community, not just family," he said. "They had good hearts and helped me out. I was really thankful because they didn't have to do it."
Some of his peers balked at the act of charity. But not King.
"I was thinking about it in a positive way," he said.
Not only did it help him keep pace with the eight others chosen from across the state for the honor, but it changed his way of thinking about the future.
During the week of Feb. 8-12, he was assigned to the Department of Transportation. Some of his duties included delivering mail, filing and other simple tasks associated with working in an office. The pages also took tours of such places as the Capitol and Museum of Natural Science, visited the women's correctional facility and helped out in the Soup Kitchen.
There's nothing wrong with hard labor, King said. But the opportunity opened his eyes to other options.
"I had a chance to be on the other side," he said. "There's nothing wrong with getting in a business suit every day and going to work."
It also expanded his vision of future jobs.
"Before, the chances of my being in an office, I thought they were really slim," he said. "I can see myself, actually picture myself behind a desk working. ... I was very, very confident in myself. I was like, I'm dressed up. I have to be on my best behavior. It was very enlightening to me. I actually had fun dressing up every day."
That wasn't the case when he started the process.
Barbara Wilkins, Goldsboro graduation coach, and Sudie Davis, director of Communities in Schools, encouraged him to fill out the application to become a page. When he was notified of his selection in mid-January, it came as a surprise.
"It was an honor because I wasn't expecting to be chosen," he said. "They picked 13 out of North Carolina. Only nine showed up."
Admittedly nervous and reserved when he first arrived for duty, his fears dissipated once he got to know the other high school students.
"They were just like me," he said.
Among the highlights of the week was getting to meet the governor.
"(Gov. Perdue) sat down and talked to us a few minutes, asked what we planned to do after high school," he said. "She talked about how she had been a teacher and then went on to become governor ... and how we can do anything we want to do."
But it was the community service aspect -- serving 300 people in an hour at the Soup Kitchen -- that most affected King.
"I didn't know that Raleigh had so many people that were homeless," he said. "It kind of made you feel like, I'm doing something good. It made me even thankful for what I had."
Since his return to Goldsboro, Michael has been asked to speak to several classes about his experience in state service.
He said his aim is to encourage students to take advantage of whatever opportunities they are given.
"It will help them in the future, not just thinking about today but in the future," he said.
As for his own plans, he still aspires to go on to college and study psychology.
Education is vital, the senior says. He's made it the centerpiece of his graduation project -- the theme being, "Why do we need an education (the importance of a high school diploma)."
"Basically, I'll be speaking on the benefits of getting a good education and how not having one can hold you back," he said.
It's a topic near and dear to his heart. He said he's watched too many others not finish high school, and from that he "learned not to fall into that lifestyle."
"I can honestly say that now I'm open to all suggestions and opportunities that are out there," he said. "I was basically just looking toward labor jobs. Now my eyes are open to all suggestions. I could see myself in a situation where I was too talented, having a job I wanted to do, just to make money.
"Now I see there's a better chance. I have a better chance now. I'm actually ready to go to college now. I have that confidence."