As our fifth and final team challenge with Techtown Detroit and Southwest Solutions comes to an end, and we all transition to our individual impact projects, I felt that I needed to give a quick shout out to the wonderful Year Five Fellows who have made this year meaningful for me both personally and professionally.

In my not at all biased opinion, Challenge Detroit Fellows are…

… ambitious. And not the kind of ambitious that’s about competing or getting the job at the brand-name company. It’s the kind of ambition that comes with wanting to make an impact. It’s understanding that social impact careers are messy, there might not be recognition right away, and it requires a lot of difficult but worthwhile work.

… emotionally invested in what they do. In many fields, it can be valuable to separate emotion from the workplace, but I find that it’s almost impossible to do community development work this way. I’ve been amazed by the ability of fellows to empathize and let that inform their work. Fellows care about the communities they are working with and the challenges that they face.

…role models, even though (and sometimes especially when) they don’t act like traditional “adults”. They have shown me how to “adult” in the best way- the highs and the lows, the roller-coaster of independence, control, and chaos. They have given me great advice about my own career development and have shown me (in the most cliche way possible) that at some point age is just a number and you can never compare yourself to where someone else is in their lives and careers.

…willing to have tough conversations with people who don’t look like them or didn’t grow up like them, which is hugely important in this city.

…all types of creative. And that ranges from designing websites and process models to buildings and streetscapes. Within minutes, I’ve seen fellows fill a wall with colorful post-its scrawled with random ideas to address an issue.

…excited about LIVING in Detroit, not just residing here. I’ve seen how fellows want to do all that they can to get the full Detroit experience. And they don’t just want to check boxes on a list, they want to seek out new and unexpected things and I genuinely like people who can live that way.