DaShuane Hawkins Is More Than Just A Phenomenal Educator
As a child, did you always have grand aspirations of one day merging a few of your personal passions together to create a sustainable lifestyle for yourself?
I don’t think I ever really saw myself doing this, but I remember as a kid telling my mom I would be a star. I guess stardom for me is being able to create something and make it work. As a child, you always aspire to be something or be successful and I knew I always wanted that but didn’t know exactly how it would come.
Coming from The University of Michigan and having a vast background in mentorship and community work, what made you decide to enter the world of teaching?
The interesting thing about my teaching journey is that it was never my plan. I initially decided to take a year off from school and then go on to attend law school. I started off as a substitute teacher for the River Rouge School District. As I got more involved and started doing things with the students in performing arts, I was then offered the position to come on as a Dance instructor.
I’ve always loved working with kids and connecting with them through my own experiences, but this opportunity allowed me to do it more intensively. Building community is important, and doing that with students is key to me.
That year off turned into a couple of years of me now enjoying my students, and it’s always an honor. I get to relate with them and be the “fun teacher” — I always think of my impact on them and hope to one day be the teacher they remember positively. I didn’t see myself here but glad it worked out this way.
Talk about your first day as a Performing Arts Teacher at River Rouge High School in 2017 and how you’ve evolved as an educator since then.
I remember walking into the building, seeing the marble floors, the available class options, and the connection between all of the staff and students and thinking, wow…. the environment and energy here are contagious. I went in to substitute on the first day of school, as there were still a few positions that needed to be filled and I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew I wanted to have balance with the students where I could be cool and also get their respect. If I remember correctly, it had to be about 23 kids at the time, but I recall seeing a good amount kids I already knew from prior volunteer experiences. I admired how community-oriented the district was, and it just made me even more interested in being there. That one day has turned into me being heavily invested in the district now.
Your best-selling drinking game, It’s Up There has become a fast-rising staple at the hands of all generations due to its relatable nature over various hues of libations. At what definitive point did you know that you had a cultural phenomenon on your hands?
Once I began to see how people were responding to it after posting a few templates to share, I knew a good number of people would be interested in it. But once I had the cards and saw more and more people share them, I knew then that I had something, and it was overwhelming yet amazing to see. Detroit is also a city that has significant influence and culture. I think that alone is what made it unique and motivated people to root for something that was exclusive to Detroit.
Aside from It’s Up There, you also own the lifestyle brand Detroit Baddie and you’ve been the brainchild behind several nightlife events, including being the CEO of Midnight Brunch. How do you find balance with everything you do in your professional and entrepreneurship endeavors?
I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to do so much, but the rush to create is exciting. I do things off impulse. If I have an idea, I want to create and make it happen right away, which has worked for me in many instances. The beauty of me being able to create is that there’s no original structure to it — I just do it.
I had more time to focus on these things during my summer breaks from school, which really made things move along. Now, I’m trying to find the balance with work and business, which is challenging, but I try to plan as strategically as possible to make time for it all. I like staying busy, so although it can get overwhelming, I truly enjoy the beautiful chaos.
Recently, you partnered with a Detroit-based, black-owned Liquor Store to house It’s Up There. What’s next for you from a personal and professional perspective?
There are so many things I want to do and am planning on doing. I’m constantly learning myself more and figuring out the things that I’m good at, so I want to tap more into that. I’m a creative and I have ideas for business that I want to expound upon. I won’t reveal everything I have planned, but I will be taking on a few other business ventures and creating more games. I’ve also gotten inquiries about doing card games in other cities. I recently released the Flint drinking game and I’m planning to do others. Finally, I’m looking to continue to expand the Detroit Baddie brand and have hopes of it being one of the biggest brands to come from Detroit. The possibilities are endless in my eyes but just know I plan to be a mogul in the making.
To find out more about DaShuane, CLICK HERE.