Dionne attended Humboldt High School in St. Paul, MN, where he was a member of the second class of interns at Genesys Works. Like many students in the program, Dionne’s family’s economic situation was bleak. Despite his many challenges, Dionne applied for and successfully completed the GW program in 2010.
One challenge in particular was monumental for Dionne: he was homeless for some time before his internship began. He lived out of a single black suitcase with everything he owned in it. And he kept it packed at all times, because he never knew when he’d have to leave and move onto the next place. He tells a story of how he sat hungry outside of a convenience store one day, contemplating stealing food as he had watched his friends do, when an elderly woman stopped and gave him money for food. He thinks of her as an angel sent to keep him on the right path.
"I provided value for the company I worked for, even though I was a high school student. The opportunity boosted my sense of self-worth."
That path eventually led Dionne to a Genesys Works internship with Ecolab, a global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies. “Genesys Works reversed a century’s old curse for my family,” Dionne said. Support from GW’s program coordinators enabled Dionne to earn four major scholarships, which fully funded his college education at the University of Minnesota. There, he received his bachelor’s degree in Housing Studies. Now, Dionne works for the City of St. Paul in Planning and Economic Development, helping others find housing and getting out of the same dire situation he once found himself in and has triumphantly overcome.
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