Blake Lynch’s father passed away when he was very young. Now 28, Lynch was raised by a single mom in public housing. Through her hard work, Lynch said his mother gave him what he thought was a middle-class life. It wasn’t until Lynch was 17 that he realized the family accepted welfare and lived in subsidized housing.
Lynch said his mother always worked hard. She did not see herself as “poor,” and she expected the same diligence, faith and excellence from Lynch and his brother.
“Faith was an important part of my upbringing,” Lynch, who is African-American, told Opportunity Lives. “Consistent encouragement, positive words of affirmation of my strengths and an unwavering expectation of excellence helped ensure I did not become a negative statistic.”
Born and raised in South Central Pennsylvania, in the state capital of Harrisburg — he likes to point out that right next door is Hershey, the “Sweetest place on Earth.” As he began his college career at Messiah College he selected entrepreneurship for his studies, though it was his college president who suggested he take some public relations and political science classes because she saw his strengths in public speaking, passion for politics and public service. Lynch, a Republican, always seemed to have a knack for public speaking.
“I would pay close attention to my church pastors who ministered each week, great business leaders, energetic community activists and those in public office,” Lynch said. “Over time I developed my own style and it has been instrumental in my development throughout my career.”
During his time in college, Lynch had the opportunity to intern with Hershey Entertainment and resorts and also in state government. Yet he has been working since age 14, becoming a McDonald’s shift supervisor when he was 16 and a shift manager a year later.
“I believe that every experience is an opportunity to learn, grow and someday have the chance to help someone else,” Lynch said. “Leaving a lasting legacy is a very important thing for me. I want to make sure the next generation is better than myself especially in the African-American community. So I strive daily to become better, so I can help more people be better.”
Lynch said he believes racial minorities are underrepresented in business and technology because of lack of exposure and opportunity.
“Most African-Americans and Latinos are not exposed to those fields when growing up,” Lynch said. “They are not fields that are really spoken about in most homes or distressed school districts. Many parents don’t have an understanding of what is required to be successful.”
But Lynch also challenged the idea that everyone needs to attend a four year college degree.
“I believe that if school districts, or school boards would be a little more open to encouraging their children to explore vocational schools and forming public-private partnerships with companies our next generation of children especially those whom are minorities will be successful and this mantra can change,” said Lynch.
For other youth who may be disaffected or disconnected or facing similar odds as Lynch, he advises them to find what you’re good at and go all in on your strengths.
“Stop focusing so much on your weaknesses,” he said. “Some things you will never be great at. But those things that come naturally to you are where you should direct your energy. Enjoy the process of the journey, don’t stress over the small things, live life and continue to have patience.”
This article was originally published on OpportunityLives.com.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding reporter at POLITICO, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes, wrote editorials for The Washington Times under Tony Blankley and advised Bustle, a popular digital media brand. Carrie earned a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, concentrating in business policy. She has a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.