Alumni Spotlight: Raigon Wilson

This month we resume our monthly 21CL Alumni Spotlights with Alumna Raigon Wilson, a graduate of Marietta High School (2014) and of Howard University (2018). Raigon currently works alongside non-profits and NGOs as a nutritionist and community advocate for food security in oppressed and repressed populations. She says that she always cared about helping others and 21CL gave her the skill set she needed to really affect change!

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I’ve been working as a nutritionist and community advocate in public health and anti-hunger spaces. Alongside non-profits and NGOs, I develop and assess programming that promotes food security in oppressed and repressed populations. My career allowed me to serve in academic and professional fellowships in India, and most recently, Germany, through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange. The pandemic saw me back in the States earlier than expected, so I’m using this transitional period to become TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified and volunteer with Marietta YELLS (Youth Empowerment through Learning, Leading, and Serving).

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

I always cared about helping others, and 21CL gave me the skillset I needed to really affect change. I learned lessons as a high school student that built my confidence pursuing leadership positions, networking, and communicating with the public today. 21CL taught me the power of servant leadership, which is integral to the type of work I do.

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?

My senior year of high school, I was humbled to be recognized for my fundraising and community advocacy as a recipient of 21CL’s Georgia Youth Leadership Awards. This honor solidified my desire to begin a career of social justice. I knew how to sell myself through various application processes – for scholarships, e-board positions, and eventually, jobs – because I got to practice with professionals at 21CL. Now, tasks like leading grant projects seem like second nature to me.

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

I participated in G5 @ Goizueta, the Emory business summer program that is known now as SYLI, in 2011. It was incredibly motivating to practice teamwork and public speaking with other ambitious students.

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.?

I will never forget the talent show we put on during the summer program! I remember thinking, our generation of leaders is smart, innovative, caring, and incredibly silly.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

The mentorship I received through 21CL helped me to realize how my more “introverted” traits – perceptiveness, patience – can be used to be an effective leader. Leadership is such a fluid skill; I’m learning to find balance and be more adaptable in how I show up for myself as a professional, and for the causes I care so much about.