While most high school students dream of meeting celebrities, Northeast Lauderdale High School senior Addison Boyette was among local students who spoke with one during a virtual summer AP physics camp.
Boyette connected by Zoom with entrepreneur Mark Cuban, one of the stars of the television show "Shark Tank" and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks.
“It was just amazing, and when you think of famous and influential people, he is one of those people,” Boyette said. “To have the opportunity to listen to him and being able to interact with him, I was just star-struck.”
Boyette was one of a number of students in the Meridian area who had a chance to listen to Cuban, during the camp on July 22.
Cuban talked with students about the steps of being successful, such as reading, taking a chance to learn something new and being better than the next person. Cuban encouraged the students to find something they are good and told them they have time to choose a career.
“I’m going to give you the secret of success — if you learn, every single day, more than the people around you, you have an advantage,” Cuban said.
Candice Maloney, a physics teacher at Northeast, said the students submitted questions for Cuban to answer.
Even though her students are in a physics course, business and physics go hand and hand, Maloney said.
“Physics and nature deal straight with inventions,” Maloney said. “The 'Shark Tank' show is based on people who have invented something.”
Before being involved in the summer camp, Boyette and other students in the district competed in a virtual "Shark Tank" competition in the spring. The team created a remote-controlled beach wagon, which came in third place, Boyette said.
Boyette said he was glad Cuban answered his question on how he rose to fame and how to stay motivated.
During the camp, Boyette said, he spoke with well-known scientists but no one as famous as Cuban,
“It is such a small town and you don’t think of getting (to meet) big stars,” Boyette said. “Meeting Mark Cuban was just a surprise for me.”
Veshal Konnar, another Northest student and virtual "Shark Tank" participant, said he learned a lot from Cuban about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
“The one thing that stuck to me was his rags to riches story, how he grew up, how he was working jobs and how one day he decided he wanted to become an entrepreneur,” Konnar said.
Opportunities such as these are good for younger people because it gives them someone to look up to, Konnar said.
“It is inspiring and a great motivation for us to be like that and strive for success,” Konnar said.
Matt Dolan, CEO of Global Teaching Project, was the person who helped the students and staff connect with Cuban through Zoom.
“They learn every morning, and it was kind of was a surprise for their hard work,” Maloney said.
Dolan said there are programs such as this throughout Mississippi, including those at Northeast and Clarkdale high schools. Due to COVID-19, the AP physics camp was held online
During the chat, Dolan said, Cuban compared the students' dedication to hard work as traits of becoming successful.
Boyette said he learned that success takes time and that staying ahead will lead to success.
Cuban said he is ready for what the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs will bring.
“You're the people that I look up to," Cuban said. "When you get out there and do things despite other people telling you that you can't do them — you do them. Despite not knowing if you can do them, you fight through, and you do it. That's what being successful is all about. That's what great people do. That's what changes this country for the better."