Seventh-grader Miah Gragg extends a high-five to District 9 U.S. Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville during an assembly at Tallulah Falls School on Oct. 3. (E. Lane Gresham/Tallulah Falls School)
What will you do with your life?
A big question posed by an elected official sparked the imaginations of Tallulah Falls School students during an Oct. 3 assembly.
District 9 U.S. Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville delivered an upbeat message focusing on life purpose and the importance of working collaboratively to impact positive change to both middle and upper school students.
TFS junior Brinson Hall of Mt. Airy invited Collins to visit the school after working this summer in his Gainesville office.
Hall introduced Collins, sharing observations and lessons learned from her time as an intern.
“As an intern, my job was to listen to constituents voice their thoughts, help answer their questions, and also to help research solutions,” Hall told her peers. “I was encouraged to keep up with the latest news, voice my opinion with the staff members to strengthen them and to ask questions. After interning, one of the most important things that I walked away with was the knowledge that we have a congressman who listens to his constituents and fights for us in Congress.”
Collins engaged with the audience, moving through the crowd with ease and energy.
He asked if students had ever visited a cemetery and noticed the dates on a tombstone, pointing out birth and death dates don’t matter but instead to consider the value of one’s life story.
“Maybe you never thought about it,” Collins said. “In every cemetery, there is either space or a dash in the middle…that is what equals your life. What are you doing right now to say that I want to make a difference?”
He told students they had the advantage of people who cared about them – classmates, parents, administrators and everyone could lead in ways that will change the world.
“…Changing the world starts with changing you,” he said.
He said it was essential to develop the ability to collaborate for a higher purpose.
“The question is not what we agree or disagree on but how do we conduct ourselves to make our country that we’ve been given better than we found it,” he said.
President and Head of School Larry A. Peevy commended Collins for his service to his community and country.
“We were delighted to welcome Rep. Collins back to campus today,” Peevy said. “Our students benefit greatly from his lessons in leadership.”
Student feedback from the presentation included the following comments:
Senior Alia Bly of Clayton
Rep. Collins’ insistence that life’s achievements are not based on a place of origin, but rather, a means of living purposefully, shows that success is truly available to anyone with the inclination to strive for it.
Senior Shea Hayes of Cleveland
Reg. Collins helped me realize everything I do today matters and that’s what I’m going to be remembered by, so I should always try my best every day.
Senior Sarah Edwards of Sautee Nacoochee
I liked that Rep. Collins talked about he was concerned about creating legislation that is best for the American people rather than just benefiting his political party.
Senior Hayden Johnson of Demorest
I thought that it was a very good motivational speech. The points that he made about life and how it is up to us to be our best self was great. I really enjoyed listening to his advice.
Collins is a Northeast Georgia native and graduate of the University of North Georgia. He pastored Gainesville’s Chicopee Baptist Church for more than a decade before serving the local community as an attorney and the representative for Georgia’s 27th State House District.
As a U.S. military chaplain, Collins has ministered to our country’s service members since 2002. He completed a 2008-09 deployment to Iraq while stationed at Balad Air Force Base.
A lieutenant colonel, Collins remains active in the Air Force Reserve and has represented Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013. In the 116th Congress, he serves as a ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.
He is married to Lisa and they have one daughter Jordan and two sons Copelan and Cameron.