Hero’s name: Derrick Ayson
Home city: Los Angeles
How does the person’s work advance social justice? What is the person’s vision for an equitable world?
“Derrick Ayson was born in Stockton, California and was raised by his single adoptive mother in a low-income community. He understood at a young age the challenges that life had to offer.
Still, he remained optimistic and fascinated by the world around him, as he continued to have dreams of making a difference.
Although in his early years, he was challenged with finding his voice and discovering his identity. In high school, this affected him the most when he eventually dropped out.
Derrick began his professional journey within the YouthBuild program and took a second chance at success.
YouthBuild is a nonprofit youth-focused organization that allows young people the chance to complete their high school education and receive job-training skills.
He graduated at the top of his class, receiving multiple certificates and the award for perfect attendance.
After graduation, Derrick spent eight months working for the San Joaquin Regional Conservation Corps recycling division. He realized the importance of understanding clean energy and the carbon footprint.
Later, he became the first YouthBuild alumni to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA worker at YouthBuild’s national headquarters in Boston.
Over the course of a year, his primary responsibility was to build capacity for the organization within the Graduate Leadership Department.
After his service, he returned to California and became an instructional tutor supporting opportunities for youth who were receiving their GED.
He eventually relocated to Southern California and was offered a position as a counselor and registrar with the YouthBuild Charter School of California.
At 26, Derrick spends his time mentoring young people and serving the community.
He consistently volunteers in both communities of color and the LGBT community by providing guidance and leadership skills.
He has a strong passion to infuse the arts to community awareness. His long-term goal is to help people find their own happiness, and he is committed to standing up for what is right.”
Honored by: Alicia McKinney of YouthBuild
Note: This profile is part of Equal Voice News’ special Cesar Chavez Day Community Heroes edition. These submissions were edited for clarity.