Barrington Irving visited Carborro Elementary School earlier this week to vouch for the wonders of STEM and talk about the obstacles he has overcome.
Irving began the talk by discussing his childhood. He was born in Jamaica. At the age of six he moved to one of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami. He told students about a successful high school football career, that included a top ranking in the state along with multiple scholarship offers.
However, along the way, he had a chance meeting with a pilot which would later inspire him to break world records and see the world. It changed his thinking, his plans and, ultimately, the course of his life.
At 23 years old, Irving was the youngest person to ever fly around the world in a plane - a feat he accomplished by building his own plane out of spare parts begged from companies. Though the record was later broken by a 22-year-old Swiss, Irving remains the only African American pilot to solo circumnavigate the world.
Aside from his impressive resume, built from years of flying, Irving also runs an education nonprofit to inspire kids to take part in careers dealing with math and science. Throughout the talk he showed pictures of planes and cars that had been built by young members of the programs. Every picture was met with shock and awe by the listening children.
Irving’s talk was full of inspirational messages about beating the odds, overcoming adversity, realizing potential, and never ever giving up.
"Everyone told me what I couldn't do," said Irving. "They said I was too young, that I didn't have enough money, experience, strength, or knowledge. They told me it would take forever and I'd never come home. Well...guess what?”