Alicia Wilson mentors individuals that participate in the Baltimore City Law Links program, overseen by the Maryland Youth & the Law (MYLAW). (Courtesy Photo)

By Alexis Taylor,
AFRO News Editor

When it comes to mentoring 90 students and young professionals, Alicia Wilson doesn’t have the time- she makes it. 

The esteemed lawyer and Vice President for Economic Development at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System has only 24 hours in a day, but somehow manages to get the job done while also operating a dynamic one-woman mentoring team. 

“Seeing her ability to juggle so much expands your thinking- she’s always been an inspiration in that way,” said I’Shea Boyd, a 23-year-old data scientist for Arena Analytics. “You can have multiple projects. You can wear multiple hats. You don’t have to say ‘I’m just a data scientist – you can be a data scientist and you can be an author or a philanthropist.” 

“Seeing her do all of the things she’s passionate about has always been inspirational to me,” said Boyd, who first met Wilson in 2016 at a luncheon for scholars in the College Bound program. “She has taught me how to be strategic with my time.”

At the time Wilson met Boyd, she was giving back to a program that directly influenced her own pathway to success- a recurring theme when she runs down the list of organizations to which she dedicates her time. 

Wilson mentors individuals that participate in the Baltimore City Law Links program, overseen by the Maryland Youth & the Law (MYLAW) that influenced her own legal career. She supports students at both her alma maters, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of Maryland’s School of Law. There are also students from the Bridges program, youths who hear about her work in the community and seek her out and young professionals who need advice.

“It’s critical to have a mentor because there are so many lessons that you need to learn, rather than live through,” said Wilson. “I’ve always said that when I get into a position where I can be what others were for me- I’m going to do it.”

“I know that I’m going to be busy and there are going to be other things that compete for my time and attention- but mentorship made all the difference for me and I’m not going to miss the opportunity to do that for another person.”

God and a slew of advisors are counted as the reason Wilson says she is where she is today. Though she mentions giants such as Freeman Hrabowski, she said “cheerleaders” that have coached her “at mountaintops and in valleys” made an equal impact on her journey.

Wilson said mentoring youth and young adults across a broad age range brings a variety of experiences to her life that keep her fresh and ready to take on new challenges. 

“As I pour, I feel like I’m being poured into. It’s a two-way street,” she said.

When the coronavirus pandemic brought her efforts to positively impact the lives of Baltimore youths, Wilson flipped the problem on its head and was able to exponentially expand her reach.

Prior to the pandemic, part of Wilson’s routine to fit mentorship into her schedule included meeting one young person for coffee every Monday. 

When Starbucks temporarily shut down in March 2020, along with every other non-essential business in the state, Wilson made a beautiful pivot. 

“I started doing virtual coffees. I could do them {every} morning and the kids didn’t have to drive anywhere,” she said. “I had more access to mentees than ever before.”

As technology evolves, so does the advice Wilson says she has to offer. 

“I have to change my advice because they’re living in a completely different world,” she said. 

For young Baltimoreans looking for someone to help them find their way, Wilson said “Be bold, audacious, and humble in your pursuit of mentors that can pour into you.” 

“Focus on being the sort of mentee that you would want to mentor.”

To those considering a mentorship role, Wilson said the reward is invaluable.

“Even if the whole world doesn’t see the value in a young person- it doesn’t mean they don’t have value. You reap so much from giving,” she said. “You’re going to get a return not just for yourself, but for the greater community.” 

“If you have the ability within your power to help someone at a critical moment in their lives- do it. Find the time, find the space.”

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer