Dominique WilsonView Content
When students start at UIS, they don’t know what those next four years will be like. By graduation day, they have advice to give, stories to tell, and memories to share.
When Dominique Wilson took the stage at Black Graduation in 2013 and introduced himself as the new president of Black Student Union, he was soft spoken and gentle. He had just finished his first year at UIS, and he didn’t seem completely comfortable on stage, in front of an audience, but there he was, talking softly and taking the reigns of a student organization.
Fast forward to 2016, and Dominique is still soft spoken, but he exudes confidence. Often dressed in a suit and tie, he walks as if always on a mission, and he greets everyone warmly. He has worked as a residential advisor on campus, was selected as the UIS student trustee for the Board of Trustees, and was chosen homecoming king in his senior year.
Dominique speaks candidly about his experience growing up. His parents were in and out of jail for drugs and myriad other offenses. He didn’t know his parents. His mom died when he was in 6th grade, and his father has been in jail more than he has been free.
A family friend, an older woman he refers to as “granny” adopted and raised him until she became ill, when Dominique was in 7th grade. He recalls helping her to doctors’ appointments.
It was around this time he met his biological brother, too. They enjoyed each other’s company. They palled around together. Then one day his brother was shot and killed. He had been a drug dealer. Dominique was devastated.
He started getting in touch with more biological family members. “I didn’t want another family member to die without getting a chance to know them,” he says. He admits to getting into a bit of trouble during this time, though nothing too serious. Nothing he hasn’t been able to move beyond.
When Dominique’s granny died, he was placed back into the DCFS system and became a ward of the state. His adoptive mother’s granddaughter, Auntie Jay, took him in. There was a bit more structure in her home.
“A lot more discipline than I was used to,” he recalls. “Once that happened, everything shifted.”
He started focusing more on his studies again. He wanted to set a good example for his younger cousins, and for Auntie Jay’s children.
Dominique learned about UIS through an admissions counselor who came to his high school. When he visited the campus, he liked the people, and he liked the small community. He took part in STARS & Necessary Steps, a program designed to help first generation students succeed at UIS.
And Dominique has succeeded. He just graduated from UIS, and sat on stage with the rest of the platform party, representing the student body in his role as student trustee. His smile that day couldn’t have been brighter.