AVON PARK Funnyman Bill Cosby showed his serious side, but also provided many laughs Monday afternoon at South Florida State College while stressing the importance of education.
SFSC Student Government Association Vice President Cody Kindrick was the last of three students who provided a brief testimony on education prior to Cosby’s talk to the audience of about 200 high school and college students in the University Center Auditorium.
Cosby listened to Kindrick’s story about being an uninspired student as a high school sophomore and then turning it around to become a better student and the SGA vice president.
Kindrick said his grandfather told him that only “punks” don’t get an education.
Cosby repeatedly asked Kindrick what motivated him to go from “punk to vice president” of the students.
“Why did you turn around son? What did you see? What did you feel?” Cosby asked. “Your buddies were studying and moving on, weren’t they?”
Kindrick replied, “Yes sir.”
Raising his voice, Cosby asked, “And where were you?”
Kindrick replied, “Back where we started.”
Cosby said, “You are back there going that way,” making a downward motion.
After taking Kindrick off the “hot seat,” Cosby said, “I think we’ve come to the point now where people can understand that in order get to where you are, you have to see something, you have to feel something.
“I was 19 when I woke up … in the 11th-grade.”
The audience laughed.
He quit high school because he was walking around in the hallways and looking at the little sisters and little brothers of his former classmates who were either in the military or in college, Cosby said.
After talking about his failings and then turnaround, and studies at Temple University, Cosby used his affable communication skills to address individual student concerns.
As a student stood and described their life and educational challenges, Cosby listened and invited them down for a hug.
Like a counselor or advisor, Cosby discussed their issues to offer support and direction.
After his talk to students, Cosby spoke to reporters.
“Still, the revolution is in the home and I don’t think it will ever change,” he said. “Kids need someone to give them a word they can remember, like ‘punks don’t get an education.’”
Teens are in a world of confusion, “these people who used to be so great at giving you things and picking up after you are now telling you, ‘you have got to do this’ and you need money and you need things,” Cosby said.
Teens have a lot of fears and even fear about education, he said. They always hear that algebra is so tough.
On ESPN athletes always say they tried harder and practiced to win, Cosby noted. “I keep looking at that and say, ‘why not algebra?’ Why not take the same kind of response, ‘I am not going to let that [algebra] defeat me.’”
If you can get the little ones to “buy in on work,” but the problem is who do they have at home who is doing work after sunset? he said. “You see what I mean.”