AVID alum tells how program helped him

·3 min read

Nov. 11—The influence of teachers, the support of the AVID program and his own inner drive have propelled former Odessan Dé Kwaan Wynn to success.

Now a software engineer living in Dallas, Wynn overcame a tough childhood to earn his bachelor's degree in accounting from Baylor University and a master's in computer science from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Wynn attended Bowie Middle School and Odessa High School. He spoke to a group of Odessa High School students Thursday at the Performing Arts Center about his life and took questions. He was heading to Bowie afterwards.

Wynn was in Odessa Thursday to speak as part of the Education Foundation's 21st birthday. The honoree was Lorraine Perryman.

Perryman's mission 21 years ago was to launch an organization whose sole purpose was to elevate education in Ector County. With grants for classroom innovation to a Catalyst Committee searching for the next big thing, the Education Foundation was born.

As the foundation grew, Perryman teamed with a group of visionaries to bring the AVID program to ECISD.

Wynn said the program taught him skills like organization and time management that he could use throughout his life.

He told students they didn't teach him like they taught every other student.

Tracey Borchardt, now executive athletic director for ECISD, was Wynn's AVID teacher at OHS and someone who let him be himself. He also ran track.

Staying busy was one of the byproducts of being an athlete and being in AVID, so that helped keep Wynn on track — that and teachers who cared.

Although he had teachers rooting for him, they couldn't make him successful. He had to do that himself.

A teacher mentioned the Dell Scholarship, which Wynn applied for and received it. He also applied for a variety of other scholarships.

Sometimes, he said, it just comes down to trying something even if you don't want to.

He added that success is very subjective, "Which means it's based upon what you think success is. Your success is basically predicated on exactly what you decide to do," Wynn said.

You should listen and take notes.

"And so the teacher can reach out, but if you decide that you're not trying to listen; you don't want to take notes; you don't want to do this. ... It may be easier to have a teacher that cares, but if I wasn't willing to hear them out ... I definitely would not have been sitting right here in front of y'all," Wynn said.

He also realized that if you don't like something, you can still get through it by doing it repeatedly like reading.

Being in track also helped because it taught him how to get through his degrees.

He read Maya Angelou books and Hunger Games to start.

Even comic books or graphic novels are good.

Eric Brooks, a 17-year-old senior, and Andrew Webb, a 17-year-old junior enjoyed the presentation and the chance to interact with Wynn. Both are AVID students.

"I thought it was nice to see someone's perspective on life, like how you would look back at your life and view it differently; how you visualize how your life would be different if you made different choices; how the little things every day can come back and affect your life later," Brooks said.

Webb said he would take the pointer of getting organized to heart.

"I probably need to start studying sooner because I do a lot of stuff last second," Webb said.

He and Brooks like the AVID program. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and helps students prepare for college with organizational, note taking and time management skills, for example.

"Sometimes it feels like a free class ...," Webb said. But it's not. It has taught him how to organize and plan.

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