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AXE Senior Orientation

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Being a teenager is, no doubt, one of the most trying times in a young person’s life. But when you got a mentor like John Legend on your side, you know you’re good to go.

In collaboration with AXE’s Find Your Magic Initiative, Legend went back to Ohio, his home state, to spend time with Centennial High School students. With poet and activist Carlos Andres Gomez by his side, Legend mentored three lucky seniors who presented their finished work in a showcase for the school.

“I had such a great time,” Legend told CASSIUS. “We spent the last couple of weeks in conversation with some of the students, mentoring them and preparing them for the event today in front of the school. I grew up in this area and so I have a lot of connection to this city … to meet some of these students and to see some of the cool things they’re doing and creating is really exciting for me.”

Legend said that he learned so much about the students’ experiences, the challenges they’re facing, and what they’re thinking about as they find out what they want to do with their lives.

“I have nephews that age who I talk to a lot and they’re all facing the same questions,” he said. “Part of my advice to them is that they don’t have to figure everything out now, they should be learning, asking questions, growing, and not afraid to experiment and try different things. Eventually if they work hard at it and have an open mind, they’ll figure it out.”

Gomez added that in his 16 years in working, the three students at Centennial high school were some of the most talented young people he’s had the pleasure of mentoring. As Deiontay performed a rap about not having a father figure, or Aria encouraged boys to embrace their emotions, or Kit expressed how to be sensitive, he was inspired to live courageously and fearlessly.

I don’t know if an event that happened today would have been possible in the same capacity 10 years ago,” Gomez told CASSIUS. “That’s a small measure of some progress being made. Ultimately anything we can do to encourage guys to be their most authentic selves, it makes a fuller and more authentic world for all of us.”