This profile on Sharolyn Wynter '07 by Frank McCoy appeared in Spelman College's Fall 2017 alumni magazine (page 15).
In 2003, as an incoming Spelman first- year student, Sharolyn Wynter was selected to be one of the school’s 80 Bonner Scholars. Wynter’s community service placement site was Raising Expectations Inc.
Located in the former Bethune Elementary building off of Northside Drive, RE educates and empowers Atlanta-area third- through 12th-graders, from economically and academically challenging backgrounds, to flourish scholastically and personally.
At Spelman, all students will complete at least 24 hours of community service by the end of their sophomore year. It is a requirement as part of educating the whole person.
“It is not enough to be proficient in your academic discipline. We are developing leaders and change agents here,” said Jilo Tisdale, director of the Bonner Of ce for Civic Engagement. “Yes, you have to know your discipline, but you must also understand your responsibility to the community.”
At RE, Wynter met co-founder Maria E. Armstrong. During subsequent years, she says Wynter rose from mentor/tutor status to volunteer coordinator.
Following graduation from Spelman in 2007 with a bachelor’s in mathematics, Wynter stayed connected to RE, coached former mentees, and became a monthly RE financial donor.
In 2009, Wynter was hired by Deloitte Consulting, after she received her master’s in industrial and systems engineer- ing and operation research from North Carolina State University.
During summer 2017, Wynter
returned to Atlanta to do a sabbatical of service as an executive on loan to RE. Armstrong says that Wynter still makes monthly donations despite not receiving her full salary while on sabbatical from Deloitte.
Wynter’s talent, says Armstrong, “was her willingness to show vulnerability, which created an open space for our students to relate and feel comfortable interacting.” Wynter, Armstrong says, is fun, engaging and can break down complex academic concepts for students while not making them feel judged.
Currently, Wynter is a financial services manager in the technology practice at Deloitte. Her experience with the rm includes two years of global experience working as a manager at Deloitte UK in their Financial Services Applications group. The Detroit native is an avid traveler who has visited 39 countries on six continents for business and pleasure.
Spelman as foundation
As a child, Wynter was not exposed to STEM, but her inner nerd emerged naturally. She says making things from scratch was the norm including her Barbie dolls’ clothes. The early perfectionist also used “a ruler and math compass to ensure that the clothing I made was perfectly symmetrical.”
She also drew floor plans and measured her bedroom’s furniture “to ensure I was arranging things as efficiently as possible.”
Wynter decided to attend Spelman during a high school tour of historically Black colleges and universities. The choice, she says was natural, “ I fell in love with the energy as I learned about Spelman’s history and legacy.”
Soon after matriculating, her STEM potential soared when she became a NASA Women In Science and Engineering scholar, which required her to choose a STEM major.
“I developed a passion for STEM and began to see my talent flourish in that area,” she says, after taking STEM classes and participating in enrichment summer programs that included intern- ships at Xerox and NASA.
Wynter says RE’s success at youth development still resonates. “My experience had a profound impact on my work and life. It reinforced the philosophy that exposure is key to advancement and growth.”
Armstrong sees Wynter as a change agent. Returning to RE as an experienced midlevel professional, Wynter extends RE’s traction on key projects including establishing a Youth Leadership Council.
Looking back, Wynter says Spelman’s Bonner program broadened her understanding of the importance of civic responsibility and empathy. “I came from humble beginnings, and I was raised by a very compassionate mother so these qualities were instilled in me at a young age.
“The Bonner program provided a channel for me to further nurture and develop these attributes by serving as a resource to connect me with my community and providing opportunities for me to serve others.”
Frank McCoy is executive producer of STEMRules.com.