Jeff Henderson speaks on purpose at ODU
On Oct.7, Jeff Henderson, award-winning chef, public speaker and author, gave a lecture about his life and other rousing topics at the 37th annual Literary Festival. Henderson spoke about his rough upbringing and how he made it through it all to become the strong and successful man he is today.
As a child, Henderson described himself as, “one of the many homeboys searching for a purpose.” Coming from a background fraught with poverty and familial and financial issues, Henderson’s main goal in life was to use his talents and make his mark on the world. Sadly, he made some wrong decisions selling illegal substances and ended up in prison at a young age.
Though prison is an incredibly rough and strict environment, Henderson stated that it gave him discipline and structure, a chance to educate himself and obtain a diploma; it also unearthed a passion for culinary arts. He honed in on this coveted skill, refining and perfecting it until all of his hard work paid off. Now, because of all of his hard work, he showcases his talent and passion to people all over the world on his Food Network television show, “Family Style with Chef Jeff.”
Henderson’s life and inspiring lecture serves as a lesson and a spark of motivation for young people all over the world who have a dream, but may not have the tools they need to reach this dream. His story shows that with enough perseverance, strength and the right role models, anything in life is attainable.
Henderson’s story also serves a warning to kids and teenagers who decide that making bad choices purposely in life is the way to go. “When you make poor choices, you pay the price.”
When children lack role models and positive people around them to demonstrate how to live their lives, they look to anyone who may seem like they have it all together; sometimes these people are the negative influences that send a young man or woman down a path full of destruction, heartache and avoidable pain he said.
Henderson is proof that even if you start off in the wrong direction, there is always time to turn around and start over the right way.
Where you come from, what you have been through and who you are have no weight or influence on the person you are destined to become as Henderson said, “At the end of the day, we all put our pants on the same way — one leg at a time.”
By Dacia McBride