Grand Junction High School alumnus offers words of help to new freshmen

Photo by RICHIE ANN ASHCRAFT—Backstage at Grand Junction High School on Monday, Jamie Utt talks about the pressures teens feel today. Utt, a member of the class of 2003, worked as a social studies teacher in Chicago before launching a career as an inspirational speaker for middle and high school students and corporations.



Jamie Utt, a national diversity consultant, returned to his alma mater Monday to help freshmen adjust to the social pressures of high school.

Utt graduated from Grand Junction High School in 2003.

“It’s really cool to be back here because it wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting in freshman orientation right here,” Utt said as he started a discussion about stereotypes and prejudice.

Utt presented his signature workshop, “The Wall,” to the more than 400 incoming freshmen at the assembly.

As part of the interactive presentation, Utt asked students to write their honest thoughts about a variety of stereotypes.

“Even if you have to cuss to describe it, let’s just put it all out there so we can start talking honestly about it,” he told the students.

He also shared some of his experiences at the high school in an effort to get students to work together toward positive change, acceptance and inclusion at their high school.

An internal shift in thinking about common stereotypes, bigotry and hate is the first step toward changing larger societal problems, he said.

Since he was a sophomore at the school, Utt said, he knew he wanted to change people with his words.

After graduation, he earned a degree in peace and global studies from Earlham College, where he focused his studies on conflict resolution in the Middle East.

Utt was a social studies teacher in Chicago before launching a career as an inspirational speaker for middle and high school students and corporations.

He discusses hard-to-approach and sensitive topics such as sexual orientation, bullying, race, religion and gender.

“I really just made this job,” Utt said, adding that he felt it was important for everyone to have an equal voice in society.

Utt’s company is based in Denver. For more information, go to http://www.jamieutt.com.


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