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How Black Design Mentors Shaped My Career 

By Jesse Zackery, Inneract Project Volunteer.

If you traveled back in time and met me as a child, you’d see a little boy who liked drawing and building things. Looking at me as an artistic, creative kid and knowing that I would become an interaction designer, you would think that my path was straightforward and certain.

But if you skipped ahead a bit, meeting me as a teenager, you’d see someone set on a career in marketing or accounting. Useful fields, for sure—but not ones that I had any interest in.

So what happened? Why would a kid who (still) loved drawing and creating work towards a career that didn’t involve these things?

I think the best way to describe this is visually.

On the left is a picture of me in middle school. This middle school was relatively diverse and I wanted peers to see and accept me as an athlete, like some of the others in the school. On the right, is a picture of me in high school. This high school was not very diverse, and to feel accepted I gravitated toward clothes that were considered preppy. 

Across all of my school photos, I can now clearly see what I valued so much in those years: fitting in and surrounding myself with people I had the most in common with.