PMP196: Generation Optimism with Juan David Campolargo

Even in uncertain times, it is good to remember that positive ideas can come from even the most difficult situations.

Photo by Júnior Ferreira – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

Juan David Campolargo, a seventeen-year-old high school student from Chicago, is no stranger to difficulty. Immigranting to the U.S. from Venezuela at age 14, he began to learn English for the first time, and over the past three years, he has become fluent in four languages, written his first book, and is preparing for college.

Meet Juan David Campolargo

Juan David Campolargo published his first book, Generation Optimism: How To Create The Next Generation of Doers and Dreamers, in December 2019. He was compelled to share his own story after reading an article about how Gen-Z students and millennials are generally described as pessimistic. 

Based on his own story of overcoming the tragic murder of his father, he says, “The world will always have difficulties, adversities, and challenges that have never existed before. With all the negativity and pessimism, we may not be able to solve them. Unless we proactively create and encourage more people to be optimistic…we will never solve them.”

When he’s not writing books,  he’s playing soccer, running, volunteering at the Museum of Science and Industry, or learning about science at America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory.

When Juan David reached out to me by email about his new book, I reached back with an invitation to be a guest on this week’s podcast to share about:

  1. How students like Juan can learn to turn difficulties into opportunities. 
  2. What school closures have been like for him and other students, and the benefits of project-based learning.
  3. Ways schools could better serve students by finding and encouraging them to purse learning through their own interests. 
  4. Reminders to educators that their positive or negative influences have exponential affects on the lives of students.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Another favorite quote of Juan David’s is: “A smart person learns from their own mistakes, but a wise person learns from other people’s mistakes.” Talking to him is a great reminder why we can all be optimistic about this generation of students. As you wrap up this semester of school, be encouraged that students like Juan David are still eager to make the most of difficult situations.

Now It’s Your Turn

You can find out more about him or check out his weekly newsletter at his website here. What students do you know who may benefit from hearing a student’s story of overcoming adversity? Check out his TedxTalk here and share it with others!

Think someone else would benefit from this episode?
William D. Parker
William D. Parker