March 2020

with Noah Shin

Ke-Shawn vividly remembers the first time he walked into a session of GRIL U’s teen program. He was another young, intimidated teen dragged into the program…mostly because of his mother’s insistent nudgings to attend. The room was filled with 35 members – some high school seniors, some college students, some young adults. All were older than Ke-Shawn.

At his first meeting, he remembers being asked the big question: “Are you made or are you born to be a leader?” After some delegation, Ke-Shawn had the answer. “Everyone is born with the skill,” he says, “but your craft, you need to practice.” Leaders are both made and born, but what are the true constituents of being a great leader? Ke-Shawn had his short term goals in mind: Go to college, study, and get a good job. But, how was he to accomplish this?

Over the next two years, the mentorship of GRIL helped Ke-Shawn prepare for those situations and essentially helped him formulate and execute a plan for his short-term student goals. One of Ke-Shawn’s last memories was being given the opportunity to speak as the MC position at GRIL’s 2018-2019 graduation, where he read bios of the newly graduated students, a full 15 unnerving minutes on stage.

GRIL instilled Ke-Shawn to be proactive in his roles and develop a new mindset. He learned how valuable time is, and GRIL helped him utilize his skills to make the most out of his workday.  “To this day, GRIL has helped me [with this mindset]. Now, if I see the need, I’m able to do it. What’s urgent and important is what matters.”

Ke-Shawn attends school at Indiana Tech University, majors in cybersecurity, and works in the IT department. He is currently looking to transfer to Central Michigan University or Davenport University to be closer to home, and is seeking a summer job in the business world and/or customer service. Soon, Ke-Shawn wants to run for mayor in Wyoming.

To Ke-Shawn, GRIL’s programs helped center and create the newfound skills of public
speaking, time-management, and leadership. He is a man who isn’t afraid to start a
conversation. “I want to be able to start change…” Ke-Shawn says. “and even if not…I want to be the one to help someone else inspire change.