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How Black Design Mentors Shaped My Career 

Inneract Project Volunteer, Jesse Zachery's talks about his experience and inspiration from Black design mentors and how this has shaped his 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.