One of the most powerful men in America returned to his old high school in Queens for a talk with students. As Borough Reporter Ruschell Boone explains he was joined by another well-accomplished alum.
It was an hour-long conversation these students at Forest Hills High School say they will never forget.
Many hung on every word as outgoing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Ron Chernow spoke about their work and inspired students to follow their own dreams.
"What my parents tell me is to always go for the practical," one student said. "The practical job, the practical career choice and seeing them tell me to follow my dreams and like um aspire to do what I want to do, what going to make me happy every day, it was a change in pace and it was nice to hear."
Students also learned about the role and impact of the treasury, and a new look coming to American currency.
"The change in money and the new faces on the $20 bill, Harriet Tubman, I thought that was the most interesting," said one student.
Lew said it was the first time he'd been back to his alma mater in about 40 years.
That's him with the big hair in the 1972 high school yearbook. He was a student journalist who got the political bug during the Vietnam War. His protests landed him in the principal's office, but he was hooked on politics.
"There is no avenue of work where you can have as much impact on domestic and international affairs as in the public arena," Lew said.
"I got a lot of knowledge out of that conversation," said fellow alum Ronald Chernow. "It's great to hear his opinion on worldly matters."
Lew and Chernow were honor students, but they didn't attend the school together. Chernow was the 1966 valedictorian who wrote an acclaimed biography of Alexander Hamilton — the book adapted by Lin-Manuel Miranda into the hit Broadway musical.
After talking about the impact Hamilton had on the treasury and how the play came together, Lew busted a rhyme from the play
A move that had many snapping their fingers and cheering.
"It was very exciting," said one student. "I didn't know he had the skills."
But through the fun and excitement was an underlying message for from the men to the students. Hard work pays off.