Derik Guyton is our first alumni Spotlight for the month of December. He works as IT Support Specialist Level II at TSYS Midtown Atlanta. He is a graduate of Langston Hughes High School (2013) and of Georgia Gwinnett College (2017). Derik was also one of our Georgia Youth Leadership Award winners in 2013. He says that building strong networks is one of the most valuable skills he gained from 21CL. Read On…    

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I am employed with TSYS as a Technical Support Specialist Level II at our Midtown Atlanta office.  It is here that I provide hardware and software support to our executive and clients while on site where issues can range from telecom and PC support to networking related issues.  I also complete a variety of contract work for technology based companies like Dell and NCR in my spare time.

 How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

I first entered this program as a senior in high school with my own idea for a business.  Joining this program gave me the chance to be a part of Emory business competitions; with the “Shark Tank” like premise and conversing with other like minded individuals, my eyes were opened to what it takes to become a business owner.

How did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What skills/tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

Building a network is one of the most valuable skills one can harness and I was now finding myself in front of people who could broaden my way of thinking, provide direction and act as a sounding board for ideas and concepts.  With all of that, I can say that earning the title “20 under 20” (Georgia Youth Leadership Awards) for the year 2013 resonated with me and gave me more motivation which carries with me today.

Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?

I’ve always been more of an extrovert; being selected as a Georgia Youth Leadership Award winner gave me more focus in using that skill to create a network that reached much further than I could have hoped for; I was able to improve my communication skills in areas and also just make sure that I am an asset to those who I am building the network with to ensure a mutual gain.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

It is one thing to read about success stories and successful people in articles or witness it on television but it is a whole different appeal when you are walking amongst these individuals and their stories in person.  I made sure that I followed their advice and in doing so, I saw things really begin to grow the way I envisioned and I hoped to have some of those same stories to share with others.

Derik recently got back involved with 21st Century Leaders serving as a volunteer at our 2018 Leaderboard charity golf outing with the desire of working more with our students and the rest of the alumni network.