Michael Chatman shares his message of self-empowerment and personal responsibility during his It’s Your Choice presentation in a manner that is entertaining and thought-provoking. Early in his life, Michael’s options seemed limited. The son of an abusive father, Michael grew up in Miami’s Liberty City and Overtown areas, where crime ran rampant. He joined a gang and admittedly “dropped out of living,” enduring the trials of life on the wrong side of the law. Finally, in the eighth grade, following a series of life-altering events involving a dramatic encounter with the law, a teacher who told him he’d never amount to anything, and the inspiring words of a motivational speaker, Michael decided to transform his life.
Michael cut his gang ties, focused on his studies, and graduated from high school as Outstanding Student of the Year. He lettered in three sports and was named an All-American Athlete in football. He went on to study at Missouri State University, where he graduated with athletic and academic honors in pre-law and public speaking.
Michael made another important decision about his life: to help young people realize their opportunities are not limited by their circumstances or their environment. In 1990, he debuted a presentation designed to help young people:
- Choose to overcome their fears.
- Choose to raise their standards.
- Choose to develop a positive attitude.
Choose to develop a sense of humor. Michael helps teenagers realize that despite peer pressure and the many other challenges they may face, underage drinking is not the answer. Students relate to Michael because he doesn’t lecture, he tells a story that in many ways is their story. He makes audiences laugh using subtle humor. And perhaps most importantly, Michael tells young people the truth. His no-nonsense approach gets their attention, and wins their respect.