Watch Bruce's TedTalk "More than Student Government"
Our first profile is Bruce Wilson, a 2017 WY graduate and a senior at Hampton University in Virginia. He is a dynamic individual who has already spent considerable time during college in leadership roles, encouraging people to work together to create social, economic, and educational changes.
Tell us a little about you since graduation from Whitney Young?
Since graduating from Whitney Young, I have been blessed with grand experiences. Immediately after high school graduation, I was immersed in HBCU leadership. I have served on the Administrative Council for Hampton University for 4 consecutive years and I currently sit on the Board of Trustees for my university along with two other community boards. I have co-authored policy recommendation reports for D.C. officials, and I have worked along with the likes of the late and great Congressman John Lewis. I have received certificates from prestigious institutions such as Pepperdine School of Public Policy, Harvard Business School, and Bloomberg Market Concepts to name a few. I have attained numerous high-level internships and have given multiple professional presentations including a TEDx Talk. I am currently working as a Venture Partner for an east coast venture capital firm and preparing myself to step into the world of professional financial services. I believe that my preparation from Whitney Young is one of the greatest contributors to my current fulfillment.
What goals did you have for yourself as a senior at Whitney Young? Now, as a senior at Hampton University, are your goals the same? If not, what has changed?
As a senior at WY, I had three simple goals. The first was to be awarded as many scholarships as possible to help alleviate the cost of my college education. My second desire was to develop strong bonds with my graduating peers (s/o to the Class of 2017), and lastly, I wanted to make Dr. Kenner proud! My goals as a high school senior served me well because, throughout my time at Hampton University, I maintained the Presidential Scholarship (the highest merit award given to students), I cherished relationships that I built within the sacred walls of Whitney Young that now serve as lifelong friendships and associates, and I know that from my commitment to service and academic achievements I am making Dr. Kenner very proud!
Now, as a senior at Hampton University, my goals are a tad different. Throughout my short matriculation in higher-ed, I have come to realize that to encourage upward social mobility, one must create opportunities for communities and positive pipelines for individuals. Therefore, my current goals are to position myself to be a thought-leader in the socio-economic space and to dedicate my life to creating wealth for minorities while shrinking the racial wealth gap. I aim to be a business leader and political pundit.
What have been your biggest challenges and biggest successes in building Community at both Whitney Young and Hampton University? Both at Whitney Young and Hampton University my challenges and successes have resided on the same plane, operating as a double-edged sword. I often find myself imposing my ambition and focus on my peers and discouraging just as many individuals that I encourage with my calls to action. Community building is a slow process and its progress exists in the intersections that are anchored by education and conversation. In a CNN Politics article published in the midst of the 2020 voting season, I was quoted by saying that “conversation and open dialogue” are “strong tools that people don’t utilize enough.” Education is the first step to building a community. Individuals must allay themselves of willful ignorance and be willing to unlearn damaging thoughts while learning and relearning productive principles. Education is to be met with conversation and with a successful pairing, one avenue of community building can begin.
What ideas do you have for how our Whitney Young Community can grow stronger? What advice do you have for our students in making an impact?
The first idea that comes to mind when I think of how our Whitney Young Community can grow stronger is to recognize our privilege and to work to extend it to others. I advise current Whitney Young students to act like our namesake and to challenge themselves with community leadership and higher education. I know that our Whitney Young Community is one that already serves as a model for others, but I know that if we combine our efforts we will continue to be a trailblazing and inclusive community that can touch the lives of many.