Derrick is a digital media executive living in San Francisco. He works at Essence Digital, a global digital media agency, and is an Advisory Board member of Global Eye Entrepreneurs (GEE), a program for emerging young entrepreneurs. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College in 2014. We caught up with him at the 2015 Reunion.
How did your time at Williston impact your career choice?
Williston informed my passion for global affairs. I had the chance to explore other cultures through the classes I took and the friends I made. I studied Spanish, and lived in Spain the summer of my junior year. That, coupled with my curiosity, led me to study international relations in college and later to work at a global digital agency.
Which teacher had the greatest impact on you?
Lisa Levchuk. She was my English teacher turned advisor. I loved her positivity,
approachability, and sense of humor.
What is GEE?
Global Eye Entrepreneurs (GEE) is an organization that provides mentoring to aspiring young entrepreneurs through training programs and community empowerment opportunities in Africa. Originally designed for black men in their senior year of college, the program has evolved to include entrepreneurs of color at all stages of their professions.
How did your experience at Williston lead to your work with the group?
I absolutely loved my experience at Williston; however, as a young black man, I was forced to question my identity and position in the context of my environment. Williston was a great place for me to do this. I was very involved in cultural activities at Williston. I was part of the Diversity Day committee and a member of the school’s cultural club. During my sophomore year, I was one of five sponsored students selected by Williston to attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference. It was here that I began to unpack systemic societal issues like sexism, racism, and classism, which ultimately shaped my work today.
What was your transition like when you got to Williston?
I was raised in the city, so Williston was very different for me. Right before Williston, I attended a summer preparatory program at Cushing Academy, which got me excited for what was to come. I hit the ground running, signing up for all kinds of classes, sports, and activities. I quickly found a friend group that was like my Williston family. We’re all still in touch—in fact, a bunch of us are meeting up to attend a friend’s wedding in Puerto Rico this spring.