Wilson plans to use the skills and network he gains from Harris to improve and support mental health policies for young people in his hometown in Arkansas.
Headshot of DeKevious Wilson
DeKevious Wilson

Originally from West Helena, Arkansas, DeKevious Wilson pursued his undergraduate degree in African American Studies from the University of Central Arkansas and then earned a master’s degree in college student personnel from Arkansas Tech University.

“I am inspired by the elders in my family. They were all in helping professions—teaching and social services. They always said: ‘If you have the means to help, you should help,’ and I have always planned to keep my family’s tradition of helping others.”

Wilson currently works as a Regional Manager at Becoming a Man (BAM), a mentoring and counseling program for young men in Chicago where they are introduced to skills like processing and talking about emotions, responsible decision-making, and positive community involvement.

“This is a program for those who wouldn’t have an outlet otherwise,” Wilson said. “I have seen young men in Chicago grow. They are open to development and growth; they want to help themselves and their family members learn and respond to situations.”

Inspired by his past experiences and his current work, Wilson decided to pursue a degree in public policy. “I am motivated by the people I work with every day. The young men I have met in Chicago are some of the most inspiring, empathetic, and caring individuals. They want a change; they know class differences exist between the South Side and Downtown, but they are trying to make a difference for themselves. People in positions of power need to help make that happen by providing the opportunities and resources.

For things to properly work, there must be policy. Policy comes from the outcry of those who are marginalized, but I want to know how it looks for the people who are elected to actually make it.”

Harris’ Evening Master’s Program (EMP), Wilson said, was a natural fit. “I first learned about the EMP from an email inviting me to an interest meeting. When I heard from individuals who care about policy and also the science behind it and saw that I could continue my professional path while taking classes, I knew this was the opportunity I wanted to pursue. The humanity of public policy exists at Harris—it's a leader in the field. I am thankful that they invest in people who want to do the grassroots work to make change in society.”

Supplementing his policy journey, Wilson was selected as an Obama Foundation Scholar, where he will participate in programming to further advance social change. “The first meeting of the Obama Scholars felt like the assembly of the X-Men! They are individuals who are so meek and humble but are fighting for change in the world: they just get it. I am excited for the skills I will build and the things that will happen in the future as a result of the programming.”

Wilson’s goals after Harris are clear. “I want to make sure that mental health for young people is always on the table, so they have an environment to express themselves. I want to teach the Black and Brown community how policy works, make it a language everyone can digest. I want to bring this information back to my home state of Arkansas, and continue to educate people on voting rights and human rights. Maybe, one day, I will even run for office.”