Emily Wilson is a 2021-2022 Fellow. She grew up in Lake Odessa, Michigan and earned a Bachelor of Science in Statistics, Minor in Math from Grand Valley State University.
Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
I work at DTE in the Human Resources Workforce Development and Compliance department. I work on an assortment of projects such as: internally verifying on-boarding documents, conducting budget analysis of student programs, leading the team’s wellness segment (T.A.C.O.S Tuesday), FIRST Robotics reports/developing PowerBI dashboards, earning my continuous improvement Green Belt certification, and many more projects on the horizon.
Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?
The project consists of partnering with the nonprofit organization Brilliant Detroit. I was a member of the Core Outcomes Team with four magnificent individuals. This project was distinct from day one, because a multitude of background material was supplemented to frame how the organization is transforming local neighborhoods. For my contribution, I analyzed a PDF (equivalent to the size of the novel Don Quijote ) containing case studies (including the city of Detroit) embedded with statistical evidence to configure what outcomes could be analyzed at a neighborhood level. I feel extra satisfied with this project, not due to elaborate equations and reasoning, but I was able to immerse my strengths into supporting neighborhood level work in Detroit for children alongside my astounding peers.
Since becoming a Fellow, what new skill/skills have you gained?
What do dystopian societies, horror films, and naming a baby have in common? These topics involve decisions, where the wrong one could be disastrous. As a fellow, I have learned when a ‘quiet’ individual should utilize their voice to enhance the value of a collaborative situation. Challenge Project Fridays present a multifaceted purpose. On one side, one is able to break from work, in addition to seeing their friends while conducting impactful work. Alternatively, time spent on projects is a valued resource despite the absence of an actual stop-clock. Providing commentary in the correct environment has been a valuable learning instead of opting, ‘I have nothing to add’. In a roundabout way, challenge projects taught me that having no opinion can be an important decision (if you know the source of the quote, cool).
Since becoming a Fellow, what is something you have learned about Detroit that has positively impacted your perspective on the city?
I have struggled with conjuring a phrase to explain Detroit, but was inspired during orientation when one of the speakers emphasized how Detroit is not just a city transitioning back to “its glory days”. There are a multitude of efforts that are present right here and now, without waiting for legislature to pass the policy, chaos to escalate statewide, or waiting for the Lions to make a superbowl appearance. The previous challenge project session reiterated the statement by showcasing that census rates and counts alone, are not the overall story. Detroit’s progress is happening right now.
How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
Even though the fellowship term is limited, I think that the fellowship is a great opportunity to gain work experience with Detroit based organizations while also incorporating the community from an up close perspective. Even within the span of a year, the group of Challenge Fellows contains various backgrounds and insights that sync well with communicating with nonprofit organizations. For each project period as an entire group we focus on developing work that would have been outside the organization’s capacity. I view each project session as a part of the whole.
If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply.
If you are not quite sure what to do after graduation take the time to explore a few options. Some helpful advice that was given to me was do not hurry into your career. Utilize your education and strengths to demonstrate what you want the community to be. Or if you are from outside of Detroit like myself, why not give yourself the opportunity to explore the city beyond the automotive industry and debating professional sports teams?