Alumnus motivates students to go beyond adversity

Meghan Bogardus

Norbert “Nobby” Lewandowski started his speech with a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

“I did that for reason only,” Lewandowski told the crowd last night in Cartwright Hall, “I have a speech impediment.”

In honor of disAbility Awareness Month, Lewandowski, a Kent State alumnus – and stutterer – motivated students with humor and anecdotes to overcome adversity and to be all they can be.

Notable for many diverse accomplishments, Lewandowski was awarded the first baseball scholarship in Kent State history, went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and founded his own large accounting firm, but his life was not without obstacles.

Lewandowski said he excelled at sports largely because he saw it as the only way he could be accepted with his stuttering.

Before he could go on to start his own accounting firm, Lewandowski said he faced one of the biggest moments of his life when his first boss told him to find a job where his “inability to communicate” would not affect his business career.

Lewandowski said instead of giving up after this moment, he decided to write out a list of everything he wished to accomplish.

“If you walk away from here with anything, walk away with this message,” he said. “That’s the power of writing your goals out. The inner satisfaction of crossing them out is tremendous.”

Since then, Lewandowski has started his own accounting firm and has a career as a motivational speaker, with last night marking his 37th speech.

“I love America,” he said. “Where else could you be a public speaker with a speech impediment and get paid for it?”

Though Lewandowski ‘s stutter affects his speech, the amount of time he spent working on it has shaped him as a person.

“(You) take all these objections and obstacles and put them behind you, because you only live once,” he said.

Lewandowski said it is important to make things happen, instead of simply wishing they would happen.

He said when he was a teenager he spent an entire month reading aloud so that he would be able to say “hello” when talking on the phone.

“I did not wish I could say ‘hello,'” Lewandowski said. “I did something about it.”

Lewandowski said an important part of being successful is being enthusiastic and focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

“Negative thinking is like sitting in a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but you don’t get anywhere,” he said.

In spite of everything he has been through, Lewandowski has become successful with a positive attitude, and he said he thinks that is all a person needs.

“You and me and everyone have the responsibility to make the best out of what you have,” he said.

Contact student affairs reporter Meghan Bogardus at [email protected].