We're thrilled to welcome Donte Wilkins to AchieveMpls, where he has joined Cecilia Caros on the Southwest High School Career & College Center team. Donte recently relocated from Chicago, where he spent six years working in youth advocacy in the Chicagoland area.
In his position at Southwest, Donte works one-on-one with students to help them explore their career passions, find their best postsecondary options, complete the FAFSA, apply for financial aid, and connect with other resource as they prepare for life after high school.
We asked Donte to share some insights into his life as a young student, his favorite memories from school and what he enjoys about working at AchieveMpls:
When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be “when you grow up”?
A meteorologist on TV chasing tornados. I wanted to do that from the time I was five years old until my junior year of college when I was sitting in calculus 3. Then I decided to switch to social work! I realized that analyzing data projections in an office all day was not what I wanted to do (and I also found out there was no money in chasing storms), so I turned to advocacy work instead.
What was your very first job as a young person?
I started working at American Eagle and really hated it! I left that job to work at Starbucks, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What is your best memory from your senior year in high school?
I would have to say it was the realization on graduation day that I would be the first in my family to attend a four-year university. From that moment forward I wanted to set the bar high for my younger siblings.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Honestly it would have to be a lot of the students I’ve worked with and advocated for. The adversity I’ve seen them overcome is truly admirable. Some of these students have gone through things that I’ll probably never see in my life. And the fact they can power through that stress is what gives me the energy to power through anything I’m going through on any given day.
What's some good advice you received as a young person that changed your life?
My dad told me “It’s not always about what you know, it’s who you know” This has held true and is probably the reason why I am a such a networker and people person, and, honestly, why I do what I do professionally today.
What do you like most about working at AchieveMpls (so far)?
The amount of love and support that I hear and feel from each and every person in this organization is unreal. I’ve never been a part of an organization like this before. It's what I was seeking and am glad to have found it. I feel like I'm able to be my true self and I know I can call on anyone here in a time of need for anything, work related or not.