Meet D’Juan Wilcher, Midwest Region Director, Travis Manion Foundation. D’Juan, a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer, was selected by the George W. Bush Presidential Center as a “Stand-To” Veteran Leadership Program (VLP) Scholar. His career began in the U.S. Navy and has evolved into one that makes an active impact on youth throughout the City of Chicago.
D’Juan’s biggest challenge in his career was to find his identity after graduating from college. While the military provided a clear career path, pursuing civilian leadership roles required a strong effort to identify who he wanted to be. He knew he wanted to serve people and do something worthwhile but he wasn’t sure what that would be.
To overcome this challenge, he says he got up every day and simply did the work he needed to do to serve others. He applies the same philosophy to growing in his career today, making mentorship a staple in his daily life and continuing to serve others. As he often puts others’ needs ahead of his own, he is purposeful about scheduling time to be still. He creates moments for mindfulness, even if it’s just a few minutes in the car before he walks into the office. This practice has helped him find clarity and keep the stamina he needs to remain supportive of others no matter what may be going on in his own life at the time.
The advice he wishes someone had given him earlier in his career. “Success is not linear and does not look the same for everybody. In the military, it’s linear. You can chart out a 30-year career in the military. I thought I could do that outside of the Navy and had to learn patience instead.”
D’Juan says he has created his own personal board of advisors that can check him when he needs it. He also remembers to be flexible to what success looks like and allows himself to be both vulnerable and humble to those who care about him.
Advice for people looking to give back to their communities as part of their career: “Make sure your house is in order and make sure you’re well. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. Assess your bandwidth. If you don’t have it, don’t commit to taking care of others that need you.”
How he stays prepared for the future: D’Juan says he pays attention to trends and is an avid reader. He’s frequently looking to what the third or fourth iteration of a project might look like. This ensures his team has a long-term impact on their total environment in addition to the individuals they serve.
What additional wisdom does he have to share? “Remember that balance doesn’t mean equal. Take the 30,000-foot view of your life. Be kind. Be Patient. Do the work.”