• February 23, 2020

AVID Showcase brings in special speaker - Odessa American: ECISD

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AVID Showcase brings in special speaker

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2020 4:26 pm

De Kwaan Wynn is a lot of things — an Odessa High School, Baylor University and Texas A&M Corpus Christi master’s student and a software developer. But probably the most important thing in his life is being a graduate of the AVID program.

Wynn, now 24, was back at OHS Tuesday telling students his story of growing up in Odessa with an aunt, not having much money and having AVID students and teachers become his family. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and it is a national program. OHS is a national demonstration site for the program.

AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society, its website said.

Wynn, who grew up poor, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Baylor and is finishing a master’s in computer science at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. He plans to start another master’s degree in computer science online through Syracuse University in July. He works as a software developer in Lafayette, La.

He also is a Dell Scholar. Dell Scholars is a college completion program that provides students with the support they need to earn a college degree, its website said.

Wynn said he has been speaking to students since he graduated from high school.

“But this is different. They’ve got people coming to see me. They’ve got the news people here and I don’t what to think half the time, but it’s definitely an experience,” Wynn said.

Initially, Wynn thought AVID was going to be a “walk in the park,” but he learned it was a “walk in the swamp.”

“… You can get through. It’s a little bit different because you’re walking through water, but you have to figure out how to get through. Over time, it worked on me and I figured out yes this is how you take notes; this is how you do a TRF (Tutorial Request Form). Eventually it all came together,” Wynn said.

At one point, he got kicked out of AVID and was in the Alternative Center, but encouragement from teachers pulled him through.

He added that he used AVID skills to get him through classes, but also to help him adjust. He became an AVID tutor at a high school in Waco and it helped him cope with being in college.

“Then I learned a lot of I guess you would call self-advocacy skills and I started to believe in myself more and that’s really all it was; just taking chances,” Wynn said.

He said he spoke publicly once or twice after his freshman year in college and spoke in Waco and once in Corpus Christi. Then he was idle for a while and was selected to speak at the AVID Summer Institute last summer.

Ironically, Wynn is uncomfortable with praise and compliments. At Summer Institute, he stayed on stage after he spoke to shake hands and take photos. Being in Odessa is “a different kind of pressure.”

The last time he spoke in Odessa at a large event, he was 17.

“I’m 24 now and I’m right back here in an auditorium speaking in front of people. It’s my first time speaking in front of family. I want it to go well. That’s where my nerves lie now,” Wynn said.

OHS AVID Coordinator Naomi Fuentes said attendance was better this year than last. Along with ECISD, there were representatives from University of Texas Permian Basin, Odessa College, the ACCESS program, Crisis Center of West Texas and Complex Community Federal Credit Union.

Odessa Collegiate Academy seniors Glenn Dave Dela Pena, 19, and Ileana Vega, 18, enjoyed Wynn’s presentation.

“It was uplifting, especially for me since I’m new (to) this country,” Dela Pena said. He is from the Philippines and has been in the United States for almost four years.

He added that he, too, wants to major in computer science.

“I thought there was a whole lot of truth (to) what he was saying as I have my AVID teacher right here I’ve learned that it’s not just applying for scholarships. It’s not just about applying to any college. It’s just you’re choosing your future and our teachers push us to do that. I never really took it seriously until my senior year like he did. I never really cared up until the point where she (Elizabeth Gray) started pressuring me like, ‘Hey, where do you want to go to college? Hey what are your top 10? Choose your top three; then choose one. There’s a whole lot of truth in what he said. He’s not wrong,” Vega said.

Odessa Collegiate Academy AVID Coordinator Elizabeth Gray said there are students who think like Wynn.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” Vega said of AVID.

Dela Pena said they also learn about scholarships and applying to colleges. He has 14 college acceptances so far and plans to major in computer science and minor in psychology. But he hasn’t decided where he’s going yet.

Vega has three college acceptances and is planning to attend UTPB to major in biology. She plans to transfer to Texas Tech University (maybe) and wants to become a neurosurgeon.

Odessa, TX

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