MEET 2023 NCHS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE, BARRY WILKINS
NCHS CLASS OF 2009
Barry Wilkins doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Being significantly hard of hearing, he has faced obstacles throughout his life, but he has never let that stop him from achieving his goals. Today, Barry lives in Los Angeles, where he works to support both his community and country. He has founded his own real estate group that supports equity and economic development within the real estate community, has worked to organize an open dialogue between the Black University of Southern California (USC) community and the LAPD to help mitigate tensions, and has represented the United States in the Deaf World Cup since 2008. He is also an advocate for sharing the d/Deaf and hard of hearing experience, serving on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Deaf Soccer since 2018, and telling his story in a short film that was screened at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
FINDING THE SUPPORT HE NEEDED AT NCHS
Barry Wilkins started his Washington Township educational journey in 2005, when he walked into the doors of North Central High School from a neighboring school district. As a student navigating his educational space with a hearing impairment, he is thankful that his family chose North Central to complete his high school education. He said, “My parents knew the disability services that NC provided were top-notch. Those services helped me thrive in the classroom and allowed me to maximize my exposure to mainstream academic, athletic and social experiences.”
He did not waste any time getting connected by earning a spot on the soccer team under Jerry Little, where as a freshman he witnessed the team win the State Championship, immediately setting the tone for excellence during the remainder of his time at North Central. In the following spring semester, Barry also placed onto the Varsity track & field team, quickly finding success as he competed in the 800m, 4x800m, and 4x400m, competing for a State championship every year.
“I came to North Central with every intention of running as a sprinter – but Coach Stover & Coach Simpson called me up to Varsity distance, and by junior year I was running a 1:54 half mile on the track.”
Barry fondly remembers his time at NC as an athlete, and is especially thankful for the teachers and administrators who supported him along the way – and he counts Ms. Elisa Powell as one of those major supporters. As a key coordinator of disability services, she ensured that he had all the support needed to be successful in the classroom. Another positive influence on his North Central experience was his coaches, including Byron Simpson, “I am grateful for Coach Simpson for always pushing me to do and be better, both on and off the track. Even when my tank felt like it was on empty, he always found a way to push me further towards success.”
To be inducted into the North Central High School Hall of Fame is amazing. It’s very rewarding and humbling to be honored by those who helped enable and encourage me along my path, and this recognition represents a new step in being able to pay it forward.
LIFE AFTER NORTH CENTRAL
In the fall of 2009, Barry ventured out west to earn a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California – including a minor in Architectural Studies – and later returned to USC to complete a dual Masters in Real Estate Development and Urban Planning.
While earning his degrees, Barry also competed for the USC Track & Team, and for the United States as a striker for the National Deaf Soccer team – where he has represented the United States in every Deaf World Cup since 2008. Additionally, he is a record holder in USA Deaf Track and Field.
Barry has been impacting his new home of Los Angeles by organizing the USC Black Community to meet with the LAPD to discuss struggles and racial tensions. These important conversations have led to a decrease in issues between the two groups. Barry also saw a need to raise awareness with careers in real estate and the need for minority leaders to be empowered in networking groups. In response, Barry co-founded the Young Black Real Estate Network (known as “Y.B.R.E.N.”) in Los Angeles that connects young minority professionals in the industry by creating strong networking opportunities both locally and from coast to coast. Barry is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which has further helped his engagement in advocating for minority communities and causes.
He has this advice for everyone: “Diversity your experiences as much as you can, and immerse yourself in the things that drive your passion. Don’t be afraid to try something that’s different from your comfort zone or your norms – you’re capable of way more than you might imagine. If you’re ever in doubt, just focus on starting the first next step – you will be able to figure things out as you go along, but it’s always important to just get started. And wherever you go or whatever you do, never be afraid to ask for – or give – help.”
To connect with Barry Wilkins and learn more about his work, click here!
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