Sam Gaston doesn't like to just come in first. Sam wants to come in first and make a difference.
Sam, a rising junior at Greenbrier High School, recently participated in the Future Business Leaders of America's National Leadership Conference in Dallas. For the 16-year-old, competing in the Principles and Procedures event was inspiring. Placing seventh in the nation was just an added bonus.
"Only the top 10 get to go up on stage and are recognized," said Sam, the son of Bobby and Robin Gaston of Evans. "My goal was just to place in the top 10."
Sam has been in FBLA since eighth grade. It is a national business-education association whose primary focus is to prepare pupils for careers in business and business education. He credits Linda Grooms, his adviser at Greenbrier Middle School, for giving him a solid foundation on which to build his principles.
"She was always such an encouragement," said Sam, who has just ended his term as the state FBLA secretary/treasurer.
Today, Sam's adviser at Greenbrier High, Rebecca Tyson, says her student inspires her.
"I have a student now who makes me want to do more," Tyson said. "Sam is the most conscientious student I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He's highly motivated and driven and always wants to do his best." Sam says that he "eats, sleeps and breathes FBLA. It's about all I do."
Greenbrier High School student Sam Gaston won seventh place in the FBLA Principles and Procedures event during the National Leadership Conference in Dallas.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
A former baseball player, Sam now spends most of his time doing school work, hunting, fishing and taking care of FBLA business. He was the Greenbrier High School FBLA chapter president last year, a position he hopes to retain this year. Sam ran for state FBLA president last spring, but fell short of enough votes to be elected to the position.
"He's a role model for other young people and adults," Tyson said. "He helps you remember what it was like to be young and so full of fire. Sam's one of these young people you'll be hearing about for many years to come. I really expect him to make a positive difference in whatever vocation he chooses."
Upon graduation from high school in 2005, Sam wants to go to college and pursue a degree in business. He also plans to minor in either political science or broadcasting.
"I've always loved the weather and I love the radio. I'd like to lose the accent, but down here it probably wouldn't matter," said Sam in a Southern drawl.
Earlier this year, Sam was among FBLA members throughout the state to attend a legislative breakfast at the state capital. While there, Sam met state Rep. Ben Harbin, Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
"I introduced myself as an FBLA member before I even said my name," Sam said, chuckling. "FBLA has been a great experience for me and it's probably the highlight of my high school years. It's like my mother liking to shop or my sister with softball. It's something I love to do."
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