Tom Van Winkle Urges Students to Seek Out Their "Grand Passion"

Tom Van Winkle, executive director of Williams-Mystic, gave an inspiring talk at Log Lunch this past Friday, cautioning students against “trying to prove that you’re not a bum” being the motivation behind their studies. He encouraged students to take a deeper look within themselves and figure out the real motivations behind their daily actions.

“There’s more in you than you think,” says Tom Van Winkle (far left).

“Why are you working so hard?”, Van Winkle asked the audience. A former teacher, coach, and middle-school principal, Van Winkle has also worked as a school designer, director of professional development, and managing director of school services. He spoke about his own educational mishaps: wanting more than anything to go to the Coast Guard Academy, only to get rejected because he failed his physical.

He reminded students that we don’t always want what we think we want — and the only way to figure out what we want is to take the leap into the unknown, challenge ourselves, and make ourselves uncomfortable.

“Compassion can be the master motive,” Van Winkle said with a small smile. You don’t need to prove you’re not a bum — you just need to prove that you’re the best version of yourself in everything you do.