Professor Duane Smith and Dyslexia
By the grace of God – my life has been empowered by speech. After failing the first grade, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I failed English in the 10th grade and algebra a total of five-times. I graduated high school in 1987 with a 1.9 G.P.A. and on probation for bad behavior. Following high school, I failed out of three different community colleges. The very first class I failed in college was public speaking. After my third failed attempt at college, in as many years, I became a car salesman. Selling cars was one of the best learning experiences of my life, however, at the age of 21, I did not possess the discipline to work sixty-plus hours a week for commission. So I quit. Needing to do something, I applied for the Los Angeles Police Department, only to fail the written exam. My father was an LAPD sergeant. A friend of my father had administered and graded the test. Severely humbled and having no other options, I decided to try college a fourth time.
I figured if I was going to be serious about school, I should start by re-taking the classes I had failed. During the summer of 1991, I enrolled in a public speaking course at Los Angeles Valley College with Professor Betty Ballew. Professor Ballew not only inspired me to take the class seriously but encouraged me to join the Los Angeles Valley College public speaking team. To this day, I don’t know why I agreed to do something extracurricular that was academic…but I did! I joined the public speaking team, and my life was changed forever.
For two years, I competed with the public speaking team traveling around California and the nation winning state and national awards for public speaking. In 1993, I earned an AA in speech and won a public speaking scholarship to Northern Arizona University to compete on their public speaking team. At Northern Arizona University I enjoyed more state and national public speaking successes as well as international. After completing a BS in speech, I was offered a position as a public speaking coach and an invitation into the graduate program for communication studies at California State University Los Angeles. In 1996, I was privileged to start coaching the California State University Los Angeles public speaking team, as well as teach college public speaking courses. In 1999, I received my MA in speech communication at California State University Los Angeles.
The Dyslexic Professor
I am now a tenured public speaking professor at Los Angeles Valley College, where I also serve as the director of the public speaking team, and continue to teach college public speaking courses. I am truly blessed to have experienced the life-altering influence of public speaking on such an intimate and extensive level; first as a student, and now as a full-time public speaking professor and coach of a nationally celebrated public speaking team.
I have nearly two decades of public speaking experience. I am also privileged to regularly participate with and foster countless stories of public speaking success. Therefore, I am fully confident when I say that, “Public speaking skills are empowering academically; public speaking skills are empowering socially; public speaking skills are empowering professionally; public speaking skills are empowering financially; and public speaking skills are empowering politically.” Public speaking has not only empowered my life on multiple levels, but I am honored daily to witness the life enhancing influence of public speaking in the lives of champion public speakers. However, in today’s fast paced hyper-communicative world, the value of public speaking is not only realized on a competitive level, but even more so in the real world. Today individuals, as well as, entire organizations and companies, who are focused on optimal success, must make public speaking skills a priority.
I can tell you without a doubt that public speaking skills are an empowering force that will dramatically enhance your life academically, socially, professionally, financially, and politically.
Let me show you how to tap into this life-altering potential through public speaking skills.