Write your own story and make it bigger than yourself, state Rep. Toby Barker told the more than 380 Boys State delegates at Mississippi State University on Friday night [May 31].
"Your life is a story," Barker said. "Your life is not a series of random events; everything in your life has brought you to this point."
To make a lasting impact on Mississippi and the country, Boys State delegates should concentrate on achieving four goals, he said: Finish high school; get a job; don't father a child until after marriage; and be the bigger person. Barker additionally advised the young men to sow seeds of empathy, which will grow stronger communities.
"We can be the generation that can put the whole race thing to bed, but that only happens through each of us doing responsible behavior. Spend some time with someone who doesn't look like you and actually be their friend," he said. "Don't use racial slurs; don't laugh at racist jokes, no matter what the race," he added. "This is 2013, don't be a bigot … Don't use gay slurs and don't make gay jokes," Barker advised.
With respect and empathy for others, the group of 2013 Boys State delegates will impact the state and nation by serving the people who need it the most, he said.
Barker serves as state representative for central Hattiesburg, including Forrest and Lamar counties. The Vice Chairman of the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, Barker's other committee memberships include the Appropriations, Education, Medicaid, Public Property and Universities and Colleges committees.
Before being elected to the House, Barker served as director of the Southern Miss Business Assistance Center. He launched Hattiesburg's first business incubator in 2006.
MSU is serving through 2015 as host campus for the Mississippi American Legion Boys State, which is considered the nation's premier program for teaching how government works while developing young men's leadership skills and their appreciation for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
For more information about Boys State, visit www.msboysstate.com. For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.