A young man who learned the hard lessons of the tragedy of intoxicated driving will speak at Tusculum College on Monday, April 21. The college is inviting and encouraging local young people, especially those of high school or college age, to attend.
Mark Sterner, who has spoken at universities and colleges from Duke University to Assumption College, will tell his story in the Annie Hogan Byrd auditorium at Tusculum College at 7:30 p.m. on April 21.
According to his official biography, Sterner was a senior in marketing and accounting at Johnson & Wales University, and a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, when his life was tragically changed by a bad decision.
Mere months from his graduation, Sterner and four fraternity friends took a spring break trip. Each night, they decided who would be the designated driver for the group, with that person not drinking alcohol that night. On the trip’s last night, they altered the plan and decided that the driver that night would be the person who was the least intoxicated.
The driving task fell to Mark Sterner.
According to the biography, “The next morning, three of the men were dead, and Mark lay in the hospital critically injured and facing three felony counts of manslaughter. Instead of being the first in his family to graduate college, he would be the first to go to prison.”
Sterner’s biographical flyer includes a photograph of him with a bruised face, lying in a hospital bed, holding a Sanibel, Fla., police department card identifying his prisoner number.
Sterner spent nearly three years of his life in a Florida prison as a result of one evening’s poor decisions. The incident changed him dramatically, and since that time he has launched a crusade to “educate, persuade or just plain scare” other young people to be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.
Even while incarcerated, Sterner voluntarily spoke to more than 100,000 people to share his no-drunken-driving message. Since his prison release, he has spread his message to more than a million people across the nation.
His effective, non-lecturing style and the impact of his story have made him an in-demand speaker who has addressed numerous major conferences and assemblies.
Sterner was named Speaker of the Year by Campus Activities Magazine for both 2004 and 2005 through that publication’s Reader’s Choice Awards. Sterner’s appearances are managed through the Campuspeak program.
David McMahan, dean of students and vice president for student affairs at Tusculum College, said that Tusculum is hopeful that area school leaders will make sure that their students attend the presentation because of the importance of the subject and the impact of Sterner’s approach.
Tammy Kresge, coordinator of health promotion at Buffalo State College, has said of Sterner: “Mark Sterner is by far the best speaker I have ever brought to campus. His program has such a strong message! I feel that everyone in that room could directly relate to him as a person. This is the perfect program to have right before spring break. I will bring him back in the future.”
For more information about the program, or to discuss bringing school or other groups to hear Sterner, contact the office of Student Affairs at Tusculum College at 423-636-7300, extension 5493.