GM Diversity: GM Retiree Inspires Students

Until he retired from General Motors in 2009, Dawin Wright helped recruit, train and retain minority and women dealers. Now, Wright applies his skills in an all-new role, as a GM Student Corps mentor. A program designed to give students in metro-area Detroit high schools with excessive drop-out rates the opportunity to grow and prepare for the real world.

Introduced in May 2013, the pilot year provided 108 Detroit-area high school students the chance to give back to their neighborhoods. Sixty GM retirees and 11 GM student interns from the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) mentored the students as they worked together on community service projects. Wright is proud to have been among the 60 GM retirees involved in a program that offers educational opportunity and value to students.

“This is a chance to potentially make an impression to help these students grow and develop,” Wright said, noting his own experience growing up disadvantaged in Chicago. Wright said that experience is what inspired him to become involved with the program. Being a retiree mentor, he said, enables him to “walk the talk” and connect with students, parlaying the skills they learn in the GM Student Corps “into lives they want.”

The program includes community park cleanup, park and athletic field restoration, building repairs and painting, and more. The goal is to teach these students teamwork and leadership skills, and to instill a connection and commitment within their community. Throughout the event, sessions on life skills are held, focusing on topics like career development, communication and decision making.

In 2013, students restored eight parks, planted 425 trees, shrubs and flowers, laid 392 yards of mulch, applied 223 gallons of paint, disposed of 205 bags and 29 dumpsters of plant overgrowth and refuse, distributed 30,000 pounds of food via local hunger organizations and learned about the different opportunities available at GM.

Wright worked at GM for 33 years, including in the Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing organization. Before that, he spent seven years as a college professor in Chicago, teaching Automotive Technology.

This year’s program started on April 2, 2014.