A third grade dropout
By David Hall
Mar 22, 2021
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I wrote a column recently about ideas and inspirations and, as I've said before, our first and best source of inspiration should always come from the Word of God and The Holy Bible. Other ways we could also be inspired might be from someone or something we've seen, plus many other ways too numerous to mention.

A while back a friend sent me a link to a video of a man giving a speech titled "Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout." He is telling that the greatest lessons he learned in life came from his father who was a third grade dropout. Anything this friend sends me has always been very interesting, so I was anxious to see the video. It proved to not be boring at all; in fact it was one of the most interesting speeches I had ever seen given. I've  now seen that speech four or five times and I feel like I get something different out of it every time I see it.
The man is Dr. Rick Rigsby. He spent nearly two decades as a college professor at Texas A&M and he is also a licensed minister. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Rigsby also served as character coach and chaplain for the Aggies football team. His father, the third grade dropout, is as Dr. Rick puts it, the wisest man he has ever known. He tells of the love and respect he has for his dad and how his dad gave him the inspiration to always be better. In fact in the speech he says that his dad told him that good enough is not good enough if it can be better and better is not good enough if it can be best.
Another point in the speech I remember is that knowledge and wisdom must be combined to make an impact. He also tells about a very good piece of advice his dad gave him during a very low point in Rick's life; that piece of advice along with many others his dad gave him through the years made Rick the great man he is today.
Dr. Rigsby's speech was given to the graduating class of 2017 at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California, the same town where Rick Rigsby grew up and the same place where his dad was once employed as a cook.
Just because a person doesn't go very far up the ladder as far as their education goes does not mean they can't be wise. I think of it in the same way as people that have a college degree may not necessarily be wise. I've known people that have a college degree and they may be very smart in their chosen field of study but they are very lacking in common sense. Some people think just because they have a college degree means they can run a company; to me I feel like a college degree may get you in the door but you will still have a lot to learn about whatever company employs you as all companies do not operate the same. A recent college graduate still needs to get in and learn all he can about the company he works for and that takes time, or as the old saying goes "experience is the best teacher."
A high school classmate's dad I knew used to talk about how students really need to earn that sheepskin. Years ago many of the college diplomas were made out of real sheepskin. Beginning in 2012 the University of Notre Dame no longer offered diplomas made from sheepskin, however there are still very few colleges and universities left that offer sheepskin diplomas even as an option.
There are many famous people that have become successes without even a high school diploma or a college degree, however I certainly would not recommend it these days as advances in computers and technology are growing at a very fast pace. The late comedian Nipsey Russell had a very funny poem in his comedy routine about education, it went as follows: "Play it cool, stay in school. If they can make penicillin out of moldy cheese, they can make something out of you."
I served two terms on the board of the Sherman Ex-Student's Association in the '90s when the organization was formed and also was their first lifetime member once we set the dues. I feel that the association does a lot of good for the alumni of the Sherman schools and our citizens as well, however in my opinion still not enough people know about it.
Besides having a lot of memorabilia on display in their museum, the association also awards many scholarships. One I especially like is named HOPE which stands for Helping Others Pursue Education, this scholarship is different compared with many that are awarded each year. It is purposely not awarded to those graduates that might already be eligible for an academic, music, sports, or other type scholarship. It is awarded to students who are not the very top students but are otherwise academically qualified to attend college and may not have the finances available to do so, the scholarship can be used at a college or a trade school. It simply gives some graduates a chance to further their education to students that might not be able to do so otherwise.
You can see Dr. Rigsby's speech on YouTube if you just put Lessons From A Third Grade Dropout on the search line, there are two versions but the full speech is best and it runs 26 minutes and 17 seconds. After watching the video I bought the book and thought it might be just a repeat of the speech but there is much more to the book, however there's still nothing quite like seeing Dr. Rigsby deliver that speech in person.
Just in case you wonder who the very successful high school and college dropouts are, I will list some, however what they have done is extremely rare nowadays as a complete education is becoming more and more necessary nowadays.

Some of the famous high school dropouts are Drew Barrymore, Marlon Brando, George Burns, Jim Carrey, Simon Cowell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, George Foreman, and Al Pacino. Five famous people that dropped out of college are Bill Gates, Joel Osteen, Rachel Ray, Ed Turner, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Dr. Rigsby puts humor into his speech almost from the beginning, it is not one of those boring motivational speeches like so many of us have heard before. Dr.Rigsby seems like just a down to earth fun guy, someone that would be a pleasure to know. I feel like on the first meeting someone would refer to him as Dr. Rigsby out of respect, then out of friendship he might say "just call me Rick." His brother is a judge and Rick himself may have earned four degrees but he definitely does not seem like the type person that has let all that education go to his head.
If you have any comments or questions my e-mail address is