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American Graduate School of Paris student and Overton alum advocates taking risks for greater rewards

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The honorable Lawrence Cannon. Canada - France Ambassador. — with Ambassador Lawrence Cannon and Robert Clarke.

The honorable Lawrence Cannon. Canada – France Ambassador. — with Ambassador Lawrence Cannon and Robert Clarke.

“ Imagine you’re stuck on the other side of the world with no phone, no form of communication, and don’t speak the language?” This is the question LeLann Evans, former Overton student, asked our freshmen students; questions that hooked and engaged them before sharing his inspirational story.

This was the exact situation in which Evans found himself in 2012.

Traveling from Chicago to Seoul, South Korea, Evan’s flight was delayed. “By the time I made it to Seoul,” Evans explained, “everything was closed and I was pushed out into the rain by security.”

After a few minutes of standing there, unsure of what to do, a man by the name of Michael Hall approached him and asked Evans if he could speak English, to which he replied, “yes.”

The stranger invited Evans to go with him, offering to provide shelter, food, and warm water. “ I had to decide whether to jump at the opportunity or let it pass me by and continue to stand in the rain.”

There are risks that come with reward and risks that are pointless.”

— Leland Evans

Evans shared with the Overton students. He chose to follow. And that’s how it all began for LeLann Evans.

Everything Hall promised turned out be true. Evans was able to get in touch with his family and translator, and went on to have one of the best semesters, ending with a 4.0.

Now he is an advocate for taking risks, but he also expressed to the students the importance of being mindful of the risks they choose to take. He said, “there are risks that come with reward and risks that are pointless.”

In Evan’s case, the risk came with great reward, as he currently attends the American Graduate School in Paris where he is getting his masters degree in International Relations in Diplomacy.  He would not have pursued this program if he didn’t learn that risks come with rewards.

Through a program in France Evans was able to meet the United States Ambassador to France and tour the U.S. French Embassy. At first, he felt isolated in Paris but this is where he discovered his own strengths and weaknesses.

Overton freshmen and sophomores were inspired by his ability to go out on his own and find out what his own character is made of; he made it seem like an obtainable goal.

“I wasn’t very focused in the beginning of high school,” Evans admitted, “ I had to work hard to catch up senior year.” ”

After inspiring the students to take risks, Evans shared some of his experiences as a student, and left them with some tips to make it through their four years.

While attending Overton he was involved in many school activities, he was on the football and wrestling team, he even won homecoming king. “I wasn’t very focused in the beginning of high school,” Evans admitted, “ I had to work hard to catch up senior year.”

Coming Home King, Lelann Evans with escort Shaneyla Sweatt

Coming Home King, Lelann Evans with escort Shaneyla Sweatt

He continued to urge students to stay focused from the start, reminding them the reputation they seek to gain in high school really doesn’t matter that much later in life. “ Know yourself so that people can’t influence you to change into someone you’re not,” he urged.

In 2007, his friend asked him to join him on his trip to Bay St. Louis to help the people affected in hurricane Katrina. He ended up spending three days building a house for a family that had lost everything.

Evans said that this trip is what inspired him and lead him to where he is at today. A year later he graduated with his class of ‘08. Now Evans is in his last year of school, and after he graduates, he intends to start his own non­profit organization that focuses on giving high school students the opportunity to travel.

Evans feels strongly that there is a great deal of education in travel, and that if you put some money into travel, that risk may come with high reward.

“Everyday decisions are what make you,” Evans advised the crowd,” not one single big decision.” Because of his risk-­taking attitude, Evans met so many wonderful people, and tells the students that meeting different people in their own culture is its own perk. Once, while flying to one of the many countries he has visited, he even met CNN news correspondent, Anderson Cooper.

Evans will return to France soon to finish his degree at AGSP and doesn’t see anytime in his life he won’t be volunteering.

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American Graduate School of Paris student and Overton alum advocates taking risks for greater rewards