SOE alum Deonte Young: 2021 10 Under 10 honoree
Co-founder, Alchemy InCoaching, and education administrator, Fairfax County Public Schools
VCU Alumni’s 10 Under 10 awards program recognizes the noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first VCU degree (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) within the past 10 years. The VCU School of Education has two alumni being honored in 2021. One of them is Deonte Young (M.Ed. ’13/E), who graduated with a master's degree in counselor education.
In 2011, Deonte Young was preparing to graduate from VCU with a political science degree and a presidential ambition inspired by former President Barack Obama — but he didn’t have a clear idea of his next steps to make the dream a reality. VCU adviser Carlton Goode helped him identify school counseling as a way to channel his drive to help people and become a leader.
Young went on to graduate school at VCU, earning a master’s degree in counselor education, which helped focus his goal to help young people unlock their potential. His success fueled his desire to work with kids and sparked a new goal: to reform educational policy and provide equal access and opportunity for all students.
Young began working as a school counselor in Fairfax County Public Schools in northern Virginia, seeking out activities that enrich students’ lives. He worked with academic support programs and led service-learning trips to Ethiopia and Ecuador. In 2019, he and two partners, including fellow alum Armand Johnston II (B.S.’12/H&S), founded Alchemy InCoaching, an educational consultancy working with students in sixth grade through college. Sessions focus on development gaps like executive functioning abilities.
“We provide students with the skills and resources they are not getting in a typical school day,” says Young — practical skills that help them achieve their goals, such as time management, study skills and organization. “We are not interested in quick fixes — we want to be part of an educational transformation that leads to lasting success.” Alchemy InCoaching is working with individual students in northern Virginia and has recently partnered with Norfolk City Public Schools in Southeastern Virginia.
Young’s passion for empowering others extends to his peer group. In 2018, insightful conversations with friends and fellow members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. inspired him to form an empowerment group for men. Let the Man S.P.E.A.K. (Share thoughts, Perfect your craft, Empower others, Achieve goals, Know your worth) began as an avenue for men to prioritize open discussions and support; discussions might range from professional development and financial management to mental health and family relationships.
Young continues to seek opportunities to effect systemic change and ways to expand his involvement in advancing educational policy to create a more equitable public school system. In the immediate future, he wants to develop programming at Alchemy InCoaching and have a dedicated collaborative space to host group activities and bring families together. As the company grows, Young continues to evolve his business model to provide greater access for students and families who can’t afford coaching costs. He also gives back to VCU as a mentor through the African American Alumni Council.
Young is fueled by words he often heard from his grandfather: “Good, better, best; never let them rest until the good is better and the better is best.”
“That’s one thing I think about daily,” Young says. “I’m constantly trying to make my best even better and pass that philosophy on to the next generation.”