Surrounded by about 600 other competitors ready to vie for first place at the Florida Geography Bee, a curious 13-year-old Aiden Adams surveyed the room.
As parents unrelentingly quizzed their children and studying teens clicked away at their laptops, he predicted that his lack of preparation would ultimately result in a loss.
However, 10 correctly answered questions later, Adams was on his way to finishing seventh in the state.
“I have always had a knack for memorizing geography,” Aiden Adams, now a 16-year-old junior, said. “I’m really interested in different countries and parts of the world.”
A Florida native, Adams has roamed as far south as Belize and as far north as Nova Scotia, stopping in cities like Anaheim, San Francisco, Atlanta and Nashville. A staunch intellectual, he can recall an interesting observation he had based off the differences between the locations of his travels.
“Canada and the United States are developed countries that have all these resources and countries,” Adams said. “[Developing nations] have a completely different perspective of life than [developed ones].”
He believes that traveling enables him to learn about not only the cultures of the people he visits, but also what transpires in their the-day to-day lives.
“It’s always good to see things through others’ eyes and try to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes,” Adams said.
Naturally, his love for learning about the world and its people manifests itself in his passion for his main extracurricular activities – Speech and Debate and DECA – two clubs that focus on the political and business worlds, respectively.
Beginning in his freshman year, Adams has racked up countless trophies including Undefeated in debate at various after school tournaments and a second place rank at the Falcon Invitational. But what he values most are the lessons learned from the preparation required to win.
“The argumentation skills that are needed for [debate] and the ability to analyze rhetoric are really important in life,” he said. “You learn how to develop your own opinions and way of thinking.”
In DECA, Adams has excelled in quite the same manner, having placed at the Florida DECA state competition and subsequently qualified for the international competition both years that he has been in the club.
His business proficiency did not go unnoticed as he had earned the position of Written Events Director by his sophomore year and co-president by his junior year.
As president, Adams introduced a new project to CCHS’s DECA program – one that effectively allows for members to gain the corporate experience they crave by establishing a partnership between the club and local businesses.
“The businesses make contributions by donating (monetary or otherwise), hosting a fundraiser or providing an internship for one of our Academy of Finance students”, he said. “In return, we promote them through advertisement.”
Deemed the “DECA Local Business Advisory Board,” the project supports the team through mitigating the cost for their state and international competitions.
“I want make is so that everyone who makes it to states or internationals has the opportunity to go,” said Adams. “Unfortunately, sometimes kids are not able to go [financially] and that bothers me so it is my goal to expand upon [the project] and make it more legitimate.”
Usually a member of DECA is assumed to be pursuing a career in the business world. So to many these ventures seem to diverge from Adam’s goal of a future in medicine, however, he believes the opposite.
“If you want to become a doctor and have any hope of owning a practice, you have to know how to run [it], hire employees and [handle] any internal or external affairs that surround a business,” he said. “It’s really important to be business literate in this world.”
Not just owning a medical practice, but going the extra mile to efficiently upkeep it reflects the hard-working mentalities of Adams’ persona well. These qualities of self-motivation and determination are what most likely put him at the top of his class.
A favorite of his teachers, he received four excellence awards last year and believes that his time management methods are what keeps him from descending into the stress culture junior year perpetuates.
“It can be a little overwhelming but splitting up things into chunks and doing a little bit at a time instead of all at once really helps,” he said.
Adams’ philosophy holds true in that his success was derived by persistence and the drive to always do better.
“If you’re going to do something and not put in the most effort, then why do it at all?” he said.
Photo by Sarah Khan