Derrell is used to having a lot on his plate.
While in high school, Derrell participated in student council, track and field, and William Chrisman High School’s Black Student Union (which he helped form). Before graduating high school in December 2020, he also participated in the Independence Youth Court and did an internship with the UMKC Student Law Academy.
“When I was younger, I was the kind of kid who asked, ‘Why is it like this?’” said Derrell. “A lot of law happens in the courtroom. And I thought, I don’t want the justice system to be like this. What if we could change it?”
Building a friendship, making connections
Derrell, 17, was born and raised in the Kansas City area. His godmother had previously been a Big and helped enroll Derrell in the BBBSKC program when he was in middle school. It wasn’t until his sophomore year, however, that he would finally get matched.
“It had been so long that I thought I might not get a Big,” said Derrell. “I don’t have any older siblings, so I was hoping I would meet someone I could connect with that could kind of be that Big Brother figure in my life.”
Sean and Derrell have now been matched for over two years.
“It started out with a lot of eating out and just getting to know one another,” said Derrell. “Things like bowling and go-carts too — fun things that really helped break the ice.”
Once they had developed a bond, the “serious” mentoring really took off.
“He introduced me to some people at Deloitte, including one of his friends who is a lawyer,” said Derrell. “He helped expose me to a lot of real-world situations that have helped me network and introduced me to people in the legal field, which is what I want to do.”
The mentoring relationship hasn’t just helped Derrell — it’s helped Sean, too.
“Sean always tells me that he has never met someone that thinks like I think or thinks as wide as I think,” said Derrell. “He says I challenge him to not just be smarter, but better.”
‘He pushes me to be the best that I can be’
For Derrell, the college search process was daunting — but Sean was a steady hand and strong supporter every step of the way.
“I changed my mind about where I wanted to go to college many times,” said Derrell. “At one point, Sean asked me to send him a list of all the colleges I was looking at. He then responded with a huge email about each school’s scholarships, political science departments, and their pros and cons. It was so helpful.”
Before he heads off to college, Derrell will participate in BBBSKC’s internship program this summer.
“I had wanted to do an internship for a long time, but it kind of got kick-started when my Match Support Specialist told me about the program and encouraged me to apply,” said Derrell. “I’m really looking forward to gaining some office experience and learning more about how to interact and network with others.”
At the BBBS Graduation Celebration in May, Derrell gave a shout-out to the role his Big Brother has played in his journey.
“He helps me get into positions where I can showcase how good I am at different things,” said Derrell. “He pushes me to be the best that I can be.”
After the internship, it’ll be time to add another new thing to his plate: This fall, Derrell will head to Georgia to attend Morehouse College, where he will major in political science.