Menlo College Student Denzell O. Perry Rises to Fame with the Boys & Girls Club

Menlo College Student Denzell O. Perry Rises to Fame with the Boys & Girls Club

Denzell Perry’s introduction to the Boys & Girls Club began when he was a six-year-old struggling with a learning disability. In the California city of Compton, Perry’s mother struggled to support and feed her family, but she, along with Perry’s grandmother, significantly shaped his foundation in life, which included a fundamental faith in God.

When he had not begun to speak at age five, Perry’s family introduced him to the Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles. The introduction changed his life. In the years since, Perry found his voice, and his involvement with the club grew with a succession of increased responsibilities that shaped him into a national youth leader. Along the way, Perry’s faced multiple adversities: he lost multiple loved ones, including his brother and cousin due to gun violence; four of his closest childhood friends are deceased, and one is serving a 10-year sentence in prison. Perry credits the Boys & Girls Club with keeping him “off the streets and out of gangs.”

In 2012, in one of the highlights of his association with the Boys & Girls Club, he was selected as one of five candidates at the National Youth of the Year Awards in Washington, DC, where he met former President Barack Obama. Perry said “President Obama told me to never put a restriction on how far you can go in life.”

Perry was attending UC Irvine when his childhood friend and then-Menlo College student Jacobi Patterson ’16 introduced to him to Menlo College. When Perry visited his friend on campus, he recalled the “Menlo family culture,” and discovered that Provost Terri Givens and Menlo College Trustee Sean Mendy were involved in the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula. He decided to transfer to Menlo College. Perry said, “The level of opportunities for students at Menlo College has made all the difference for me.”

Perry is a junior, majoring in Human Resources at Menlo College, and a high school success coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula. The Peninsula Club partners with parents, schools, and the community in academic enrichment, school engagement, targeted dropout prevention, and character development for youth. He has an opportunity there to work under Michael Jones, a senior director who has motivated and inspired Perry. At Menlo, Perry also serves as the executive director of a campus organization called Black Educated Men (BeMen), which serves to educate and change the perception of men of color in society.

In his role as an advocate for youth at Menlo College, Perry recently called on his network to help a fellow Menlo College student procure an internship recommendation for Ernest & Young. Perry said unassumingly “Someone did it for me.”