Today, The New York Times published a short and interesting interview with Anthony Foxx, United States transportation secretary. It’s titled Anthony Foxx: Grit Goes Further Than Genius.

I’ve got to admit I had never heard of him before, which is embarrassing, especially after reading his story.

The last three paragraphs, I think, are particularly important. I’m turning them into a Writing Prompt.

Here are the paragraphs:

I was talking to a group of kids recently at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, and one of the kids asked me this brilliant question. He said that a lot of kids grow up in circumstances that are really tough, and the question was, should they be able to use their background as an excuse for not making it?

I responded that it’s a tough question because if I say yes, then what that does is deny that individual the room to make a choice for themselves to surmount their background. If I say no, that means that maybe I don’t give enough credence to what someone’s individual circumstances are.

The way I looked at it as a kid was that I had a lot of disadvantages. Statistically I’m not supposed to make it, but if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down swinging. I think the key is that you’ve got to have a little fight in you. And you’ve got to be very clear about who you are. And once you know that, you have to be willing to live by that.

And here’s the accompanying writing prompt:

How does United States transportation secretary Anthony Foxx think young people should respond to “tough” circumstances (these might growing up where money is a problem, difficult family issues, etc.)? Do you agree with him? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

What do you think?

I’m adding this to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.