Ryan Wingfield is a 2022-2023 Fellow at DTE where he is the Engagement & Impact Fellow. Learn more about Ryan below.
A Look Back to The Beginning
The scariest question for me as I was completing my senior year in college was “what do you want to do?” Looking back, I suppose it wasn’t the question that instilled fear, but my answer of “I don’t know.” In seeking a new answer to what I wanted to do, I came across Challenge Detroit. I explored the website and as I did, I only became more set on applying for this program. Being able to work full-time would give me the space to try something new and explore my passions while also giving me amazing networking opportunities. The most intriguing part of the program that set it apart from others I was looking into was the challenge projects. I had only thought about giving back to the community through the means of “roll-up your sleeves” type of work. The challenge projects allow me to still give back and support organizations whose impact on Detroit is important to all people living in the city by working with a team to bridge a gap in service identified by our project partners. The first challenge project has already resulted in growth in myself both personally and professionally which has exceeded my expectations.
Our cohort had just finished orientation so it was time to leave our bubble of hearing about challenge projects and jump into our first one. I entered the Durfee Innovation Society with butterflies in my stomach, existing in a state between anxiety and excitement. Right from the start of the day, we dove into learning about all the work our project partner, Detroit at Work, did for those in the city of Detroit. Despite being somewhat overwhelmed at points with the information, it did not take away from my understanding of the value of Detroit at Work in the city.
The reality of starting the project only set in more when I learned who my team would be, what our design question would be, and what staff members from Detroit at Work would be our liaisons. From there, Fridays were filled with working with my team. We interviewed stakeholders, brainstormed, ideas for our deliverables, built and tested our deliverables, and put everything into an easy-to-follow sheet for our liaisons. It sounds more relaxed listing the actions on paper, but each day presented a new obstacle to overcome. But this is why working in a team was such a valuable experience for me in the project. No matter the size of the obstacles, a team made up of Fellows from different backgrounds with different skills allowed us to come up with various ways to overcome them.
My highlight of the program so far was the seventh and final Friday of the project. With the stress of completing deliverables behind me, all I had to feel was excited to see what the other teams had put together. I was amazed hearing all of the teams’ presentations for their projects and was proud that we all accomplished great things in the span of seven Fridays. Seeing the faces of the Detroit at Work staff light up as each team gave their presentation was great. I was ecstatic to see how much they looked forward to instituting our deliverables into their organization. My team and I were even happier when our liaisons told us that we blew their expectations out of the water.
Going through this process assisted me in finding the confidence in myself to recognize that even things that I do that may seem small to me still have a big impact on the people I set out to support. The experience also cemented my desire to take my skills into healthcare consulting, allowing me to use my background in public health in a space like the format of the challenge projects. I am excited to continue my experience with Challenge Detroit and look forward to utilizing the skills I have learned and will learn in the program in all aspects of my life afterward.
My name is Ryan Wingfield and I am from Sterling Heights. I went to Wayne State University where I achieved a bachelor’s degree in public health. I was a BUILD scholar and a TA for the honors math program at WSU during undergrad and personally, I enjoy binging netflix shows, playing soccer, and naps.
Why should someone apply to be a Fellow?
Challenge Detroit gives you the space to explore what you are passionate about while instilling the skills to impact change in Detroit and beyond.