When you’re a kid in inner-city Detroit, it can be hard to see the path between where you are and the life you would like to live. Demetrious Broughton has walked that path with the help of the Metro Youth Y, and now he’s reaching back to help kids just like him find their own way. He was recently profiled on Fox 2 News’ Redefining Detroit series.
Demetrious found the Y Minority Achievers program (now called the Future Professionals Program) at a church in his east-side Detroit neighborhood. He had dreams of college and a career, but was not sure exactly how he was going to achieve them. Finding his leadership skills at the Y helped him determine his path.
“What kind of changed my mindset around was that we did a lot of volunteering,” he says. “That really touched me, seeing the product from it and uplifting the community.”
He also did lots of workshops there that allowed him a glimpse into the world of professional work, and grew to know and look up to the staff. “My community there was kind of like a family,” he says. He was especially influenced by Jocelyn Boyd, whose own path to success was one he could relate to. “She was one who really believed in me,” he says. “If I didn’t meet her I’m not sure I’d have the the opportunities I had. She shared with us her life, and she provided me with opportunities to be able to shine and excel.”
After his freshman year at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, he got a call from his friends at the Y. Harman International, a maker of sound and entertainment systems for cars, wanted to offer internships to inner-city youth and asked the Y for help. Demetrious was asked to be the first one. “I knew I was in a fish bowl …I had to keep moving forward, and I had to show up on time.” To that end, he caught the bus at 5 a..m. for his commute, which was two hours each way by bus.
“I knew the YMCA had trusted me to do this right, so then other kids were able to come and I was going to be a role model,” he says. “The other thing that fueled me was that I had to represent my home and my family well …mainly the people that drove me were my YMCA family, and being a new representation for a new generation.”
Harman was impressed, and eventually hired Demetrious as a software engineer. He is now married to his college sweetheart, who is a math teacher, and they have a baby on the way. He volunteers with the students in Future Professionals, where his example shows them how a kid just like them grew up to be a successful young man. But he doesn’t want them to be just like him; instead he wants them to define themselves, not be defined by what others think of their neighborhood, their city or their school.
“I want to give kids hope,” he says. “I tell them, ‘I don’t want you to be Demetrious, I want you to pass and surpass me,” he says.