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By Christopher Hartwell @SilienceSeen

“No matter the circumstances that you’re given, you can use those as fuel to be successful at whatever you do.” If anyone embodies these words it would be the person who spoke them, Eddie Gramajo.

On Feb. 7, Gramajo gave a presentation titled “It’s Not about Where You Start, It’s Whether You Want to Start at All”

Successful entrepreneur Eddie Gramajo told a tale of triumph over circumstances which began with his background story.

Raised in Marin County by a single parent making less than $10,000 a year, Gramajo had no clue he would one day succeed. Outlining this he said, “I look back now and I look at what I’ve done and I couldn’t tell you that I knew that I was going to do what I’m doing now when I was in middle school or high school.”

His beginnings were rougher than most. His brother wound up in juvenile detention and Gramajo ended up without a room of his own, even sleeping in a closet for one year while in high school. His neighborhood was rough, and there were plenty of times he almost went the wrong way.

Gramajo described how once he was with some people from high school, driven up to an apartment, handed a crowbar and told to use it if he needed to. Gramajo said, “they rushed out and the people in the apartment started fighting them. I threw the crowbar back in the car. I went to the nearest bus stop and I went home.” That moment stuck with him and was mentioned several times during the talk as a time when he could have ended up not being a success story.

In fact only one moment stood out to Gramajo as the turning point in his life and he described that moment saying, “The one thing that really pushed me to take that next step and really challenge myself was when somebody pulled me aside for the first time and said, ‘Hey, I know you have a low GPA, but we can work on this. You’ve got a couple of years and then you can go to college.’ That was the first time I ever heard anybody say the words ‘you can go to college.’”

Determined to change his fortune, he worked hard and got into college after applying to over a dozen different institutions. He got a job and eventually had enough money to start his own venture. Turning knowledge into merchandise, Gramajo built an app called “Lite” to help others become smart with money through this personal finance product.

These themes and stories had a real impression on students as they heard Gramajo speak, which was clear in the responses the audience had to him and the applause they gave him afterwards.

For business student Amir Kayhani, this rise to triumph had a personal impact that he took to heart. Kayhani said, “To reach the goal that he wanted to reach he didn’t give up and kept working hard, it paid off at the end and I think that’s what really stuck with me.”

Indeed, hard work was a constant theme in Gramajo’s speech and was clear in his descriptions of the hurdles he had to overcome. It’s not every day that someone can turn their life around and overcome the difficulties that face them in their life, and that message was clear to humanities student Megan Gross. “I mean you wouldn’t normally think of it, of switching your life around like that. I just find that inspirational,” Gross said.

As the audience left the auditorium, they were abuzz with discussion of this event and several were overheard saying they were glad they had gone.

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