U.S. Rep. Doyle visits One Small Step program at Carrick High

July 8, 2008
South Pittsburgh Reporter

“A child’s journey to a successful future begins with one small step.”

That is the slogan of One Small Step, which aids South Side and Hilltop male students grades 1-9 in an extended school program, including a summer session.

Components of the summer lessons include swimming instruction, character building and classes in English and math.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle came on July 1 to visit the school program that operates at Carrick High School and to talk to the students about his own success story.

“On days that I’m not in Washington I like to go around my district. I enjoy interacting with young people. This is very helpful to me,” Mr. Doyle said prior to his presentation.

“I’ll tell you how I got to D.C.,” he told the students.

He said he grew up in a blue collar area, Swissvale, and was the son of a steelworker.

“You have to keep a positive attitude and surround yourself with positive people. There are people who will say ‘You can’t do this. You’re not smart enough.’ Keep away from the naysayers.”

When he graduated from Penn State University he ran for Swissvale council, even though one of the council leaders called him a “wet behind the ears punk.” He knocked on doors, explained why a young person’s perspective was important and won election.

“Don’t let anybody ever tell you what you can’t do,” Mr. Doyle said.

In 1994 he was one of seven candidates running for election to Congress. He did not get the party’s endorsement. “I was picked to come in fifth. I didn’t have the money.”

Shortly before the election his mother, now deceased, phoned him to say how upset she was that a major newspaper had run an article profiling six of the seven candidates and omitted his name. “Did you drop out of the race?” she asked. He said that did not happen. “Why isn’t your name in the paper?” “I don’t know.”

Mr. Doyle said he learned “Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Worry about things you do control.”

Also, “do what makes your heart feel good.”

Some people were surprised when he won the election.

“Maybe it’s not politics for you. But you can be anything you want to be.”

He asked the group for questions. “Did you have a backup plan?” He said he would have stayed in the insurance business and made a success there.

“How much is your salary? He asked for student guesses and heard four estimates: $10,000, $65,000, $133,000, a million.

His actual salary is $168,000.

“When do you get paid?”

“The first of the month. And my wife takes it all.”

He was asked if he met presidents Bush and Clinton and said he had. He is one of ten Congressmen invited to dinner this week.

Mr. Doyle asked how many students were attending college and nearly all raised their hands.

“Each one of you in this room could be our next president.”

Prior to his speech he toured the program classrooms and swimming class.

Six-year old swimmer David Jones came over to Program Director Jon Hairston, who was accompanying Mr. Doyle, and told him how well he was doing. “Good job!” Mr. Hairston said. They visited teacher Karen Ferraro’s third grade class which was discussing laws that needed to be passed.

WQED personality Chris Moore and State Rep. Jake Wheatley have also visited the program and have spoken to the students.

Mr. Doyle told the students to apply for internships for his office when they started attending college.

Mr. Hairston gave him a certificate of appreciation because of his visit.