You can’t tell from looking at him, but Parker Mantell suffers from a disability: he stutters.
But that didn’t stop the Indiana University political science major from delivering his school’s commencement address last weekend.
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“As the student commencement speaker, perhaps my admission that I’m far from the best orator comes as a surprise,” Mantell told the audience of 17,000, before sharing his struggle with stuttering.
Mantell exhorted his classmates to strive for greatness, no matter what their individual challenges may be.
“Doubt, as has been observed, kills more dreams than failure ever will,” Mantell said, before citing Beethoven’s deafness, Ray Charles’ blindness and Albert Einstein’s dyslexia as great examples of disabilities conquered.
On Sunday, Mantell told TheBlaze that his conservative values helped him overcome personal challenges.
“Absolutely, my (conservative) philosophy helped me through,” Mantell said.
During college, Mantell interned for such high-profile Republicans as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
While the commencement audience was dauntingly large, Mantell said, “It’s kind of counterintuitive — it’s almost easier to talk in front of many others as opposed to one on one.”
All last weekend after the address, Mantell said, “people were coming up to me and asking, ‘Wasn’t it nerve-wracking to speak in front of so many people?’”
“I told people that obviously it’s a very nerve-wracking experience to put yourself in front of 17,000 people,” Mantell said, “But it would be more nerve-wracking to not share the message.”
That message, Mantell said, is one of perseverance.
“It isn’t about me or what I’ve done — it’s about people becoming what I know they can be.”
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter
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