Greg Forbes Siegman spoke to St. John’s students on Tuesday September 18 and Wednesday September 19 when he spoke at the Queens and Staten Island campuses.
Siegman, a native of Chicago, has won multiple public service awards and was named one of the country’s top social entrepreneurs by Princeton University in 2005.
During his lecture, Siegman told students of his transition into a life of public service and mused over how his grandmother’s influence inspired him to do the work he does now.
“When I was younger, my grandmother sat me down and said “‘You’re not as bright as the other kids, so you have to wake up earlier and stay up later than the other kids to catch up,'” he explained.
Siegman shared his theory on how one small good deed radiates outward, and inspires others to do charitable work.
“The small things you’ll do this week, this month on campus will help other people because of the ripple effect,” he told the audience.
Siegman spoke about “The First Thirty,” a book written by Jilip Nysinthe Paxson about the 30 most important lessons of Siegman’s life.
Siegman mentioned his time at Tulane University, where he noticed how students had a tendency to self- segregate. “Everyone was co-existing side-by-side instead of co-existing together,” he explained.
He has also worked as an artist, and his series entitled “My Sleepless Nights” includes portraits of various political and social leaders, like Nelson Mandela and Harriet Tubman, who have inspired Siegman’s charity work.
For his other series, “The Art of Nothing”, the self-taught artist takes ordinary objects and turns them into art. He also creates an “Artist Journal” which accompanies each piece. The pieces have been auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity.