February 9, 2022
A relentless journey
When Nicoshia Wynn (MA ’05) spots a problem, she is inspired to take action.
The origins of the Intercultural Center
In 2001, she worked at the College as an admissions counselor for four years before transitioning to a newly-created role as multicultural coordinator. From this vantage point, she recognized that the campus’ students of color community needed a physical place where they could feel safe and connected to one another. She and colleague Joe Bouie made an ambitious proposal to college leaders: $50,000 to create this designated space. Much to their surprise, the request was granted and the Intercultural Center was one step closer to becoming a reality.
Wynn researched paintings, bought furniture and worked diligently to bring her vision to life. The glass doors were an intentional part of the design process, meant to encourage students to engage and interact with one another. Upon its completion, she acknowledged there were some challenges, including folks who questioned whether they were allowed in the space, too. “I would have to remind people that everyone has a culture, everyone has a perspective,” she shared. “This was that space for them to come together in harmony and love.”
Nearly two decades later, the Intercultural Center, affectionately dubbed “the IC”, represents one of the campus’ most vibrant student spaces, a testament to Wynn’s inspiration and perseverance.
“It is so satisfying to see many of the diversity initiatives we worked out back then continue to flourish today,” she said.
Empowering underserved youth
Since her time at the College, where she also earned her master’s degree in management, Wynn’s commitment to creating lasting change has persisted.
She is a partner, a mom of three, a woman of faith and an impassioned advocate for education and accessibility. Most recently, these identities have led her to a new adventure as founder and executive director of the nonprofit Relentless Academy.
Wynn was inspired to create this summer program to address Minnesota’s achievement gap for students of color. To her, this work was deeply personal. “Minnesota has some of the lowest graduation rates for Black students in the country,” she shared. “If our kids don’t have access to summer camps and programs that could impact their future success, we’ll continue to see this achievement gap, and wealth gap, in communities of color over and over again.”
When she struggled to find these types of opportunities for her own kids, Wynn set out to create her own.
Relentless Academy will officially launch in 2021 with an emphasis on science, math, art, reading and technology (SMART) curricula. The program will also include a financial literacy component. Wynn acknowledged, “We want our students to understand the concepts of money early on, so they can be financially fit in the future.”
She hopes the program will empower underserved youth, and eventually prepare them to be the next generation of smart and fiscally responsible leaders that the world would need for generations to come.
The work is relentless, but so is she.
“At the end of the day, I want to be able to leave a legacy,” she said. “I want people to talk about me and say, I made an impact.”
Celebrating Black History Month
For Wynn, this month is about more than celebrating the contributions that African Americans have made in the world.
“The essence and rich history of Black Americans is one in which we all should know and remember,” she said. “The sacrifices that our ancestors made were for me and many others. So I am Black History every day, not just in February but every day. Beautiful, Black and resilient!”