Desirée Quinn is a 2022-2023 Fellow at the Detroit Institute of Arts where she is a Research & Evaluation Fellow. Learn more about Desirée below.

“During her time at the DIA Desirée Quinn has helped the museum advance several key projects. We’re very grateful for the energy and perspective she brings to her work.”

– Kenneth R. Morris, Director, Department of Evaluation and Research, DIA

Trust the process

Plant a Seed, Watch it Grow: Trust the process. A seed does not become a tree overnight.

Being a first-generation college student, I have been focused on the goal of graduating college all my life. It never really seemed like that day would ever actually come, it was always just something in the future that I was working towards my whole life. And then it came at the worst possible time. Graduating college in a pandemic in 2020 meant that any plan I had made for afterwards was completely uprooted. I had achieved my life goal in quarantine while sitting on my living room couch wondering if the world was over. What was my purpose now that I had that coveted degree? I had no idea. I knew I wanted to give back to my community so that’s what I did. 

Google search: jobs where you can give back to your community.

I wish I could say this led me directly to Challenge Detroit, but life isn’t always that straightforward. Instead, it led me to AmeriCorps. And although AmeriCorps was fulfilling, the best thing it did for me was introduce me to the idea of true mentorship. It was through this mentorship that I learned about Challenge Detroit. And as an AmeriCorps alum, I expected Challenge Detroit to be a similar experience. 

Do some fulfilling work. Check.

Meet some cool people that also love their community. Check. 

And that’s it. You go home and nothing in your life outside of that work changes much.


What I didn’t expect was for my entire way of approaching problems to shift. 

I have always been a planner. Someone who plans every class they need to graduate years in advance. Someone who meticulously sought out ways to build up their resume so that they weren’t wasting their once in a lifetime college experience. But when I graduated in 2020 and all those plans went out the window, I panicked. I have never been comfortable with the unknown, with not having a solution to a problem. But as a Challenge Detroit Fellow, the unknown is just a part of the process. 

Starting that first project and also being selected as a team lead, I’ll admit I felt panicked at first. However, as we worked through the design thinking process and I felt the energy and compassion of the other fellows, I started to feel more comfortable with the unknown. I began to feel myself trust the process and trust myself more. Not every step of the process was perfect, there were bumps in the road, but that was OKAY! In the end, we delivered a great project and learned a lot. I felt proud.

Coming into this fellowship, I expected to learn and grow as a professional and I have. But ever since achieving that life goal of graduating college, I have had a hard time getting past that scary unknown. My journey as a Fellow so far has taught me that the unknown and stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be scary. There are ways to navigate that if you just trust the [design thinking] process and yourself.

 About Desirée:

Desirée Quinn (she/they) is a 2022-2023 fellow. She is from Warren, MI. They attended Michigan State University where they earned Bachelor of Science degrees in both Anthropology and Environmental Studies & Sustainability with a minor in Museum Studies. She loves swimming and the outdoors. She enjoys sharing her passion with others and coaches swimming in their spare time. Some of their hobbies include trying new ways to create, kayaking, biking, and video games. Her favorite thing to do in Detroit is attend events at the various parks around the city with friends.

Why should someone apply to be a Fellow?

“Being a fellow has allowed me to connect with change-makers in the city and learn so much about Detroit. Getting the opportunity to challenge myself creatively while actively giving back to my community through the challenge projects is so fulfilling.”