- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Student Athlete of the Week
USC track athlete Barry Wilkins does not allow obstacles, such as being partially deaf, get in the way of his goals.
Even though Wilkins is partially deaf, he still has lofty goals. After he receives his degree in Real Estate Development, he plans to obtain a MBA. Photo by Jason Lewis
Wilkins was one of the top 800-meter athletes in the State of Indiana during his high school career, which helped him make it to USC. Photo courtesy of USC
Wilkins’ first sport growing up was soccer, and he still competes. He is a member of the U.S. Men’s National Deaf Soccer Team. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Barry Wilkins has lofty goals in life, and he has not let an obstacle such as being partially deaf stop him from achieving at an extremely high level. Whether it is in the classroom or on the athletic field, his determination and drive to compete with the best of the best has fueled his fire to level the playing field.
Wilkins was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and he was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a child he played soccer, and when he noticed that he was always the fastest player on his youth teams, he took up track in the 7th grade. Throughout his high school career he was one of the top 800-meter runners in Indiana.
Like many young athletes, Wilkins used his abilities as a way to get to college, but it was not just his athleticism. His work in the classroom made him very attractive to many colleges. He graduated with a 3.6 grade point average, and he always had high test scores.
Out of the several positive people that have helped Wilkins along the way, he credits one person above the rest.
“My mom,” Wilkins said with a smile. “I wanted to be really focused on sports. I wanted to go to school, then go to practice, and then go back home. But my mom always made sure that I stayed on my school work all of the time.”
Because of Wilkins’ accomplishments as an athlete and in the classroom, several colleges were interested in him.
“I was mostly going to go to schools on the East Coast, or the Midwest,” Wilkins said. “USC was the one wildcard. It was like the dream school. It was the highest goal that I could try to accomplish. I wasn’t sure what my chances were, because it was completely out of leftfield, but I applied anyways.”
It was a good thing that Wilkins took the chance of applying to USC, because the university was interested in him.
Like many college students Wilkins had to find his way. He started out as a mechanical engineering major, but later changed to Real Estate Development with a minor in Architecture. He is now a senior, and after he receives his degree he plans to obtain a MBA from an East Coast university. With those degrees in hand he plans to work in community development, commercial development, or real estate consulting, and he plans to do it here in Los Angeles.
“I’ve fallen in love with this area,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins says that his hearing impairment can cause issues at times, but he has never allowed that to stop him.
“It holds me back a lot of ways, which is why I am always compensating for it,” Wilkins said. “That is where my perseverance comes from. It has held me back, but it hasn’t kept me away from being on equal ground with other people. There are obstacles everywhere, but there are always ways around them. I keep finding them.
“It makes me more perceptive to what is going on around me. I’m always reading signs. My buddies always go crazy when I notice details that they never even thought of. So I use it as an asset.”
While on campus Wilkins has been extremely active, as he is involved in the Trojan Real Estate Association, the Black Business Student Association, and he was recently initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., through Alpha Delta Chapter. His mother, sister, and two other relatives are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Being a part of these organizations has helped him greatly, especially the fraternity.
“The bond and the sense of family connection,” Wilkins said. “You can develop it here and then you can expand it and apply it anywhere. There is family networking, social networking, and professional networking.”
Outside of USC’s track team, Wilkins still plays soccer as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Deaf Soccer Team. His track career at USC is now over, so he has his eyes set on another athletic goal. The marathon.
“It is another big test,” Wilkins said. “I want to see how I would do if I would put myself through it. It’s one of those monumental achievements that not everybody does, but when you finish it, you’re on top of the world.”
Wilkins has a competitive spirit, and he is working hard to meet his potential, which will allow him to be an asset to our community.