Congratulations to Wakilongo Milenge on winning a 2024 Corpsmember of the Year Award! All awardees will be recognized at #CorpsCon24 – The Corps Network National Conference. This event will take place March 19 – 21 in Washington, DC. Click here to learn more about the Conference. Click here to learn about The Corps Network’s awards. Click here to learn about 2024 Corpsmember of the Year finalists.
“Through Corps, we develop a sense of responsibility towards our environment and communities. Our generation, with programs like the Corps, can inspire a greater love for nature, work toward greener cities, and make a lasting impact on our communities for future generations.”
Wakilongo Milenge’s Corps journey is the American dream.
A refugee from the Republic of Congo, Wakilongo arrived in the United States in 2018 with limited English skills. Recognizing the need to support his family, Wakilongo sought opportunities for personal and professional growth. After working in housekeeping and maintenance, he joined Urban Corps of San Diego in 2021, a decision that marked a turning point in his life.
One of Wakilongo’s major accomplishments at Urban Corps was earning his high school diploma despite being in the U.S. for only a few years and facing language barriers. Wakilongo’s leadership qualities as a Corpsmember were also quickly evident, as he was promoted to become a Crew Leader, second only to the supervisor. This achievement was a result of his perseverance, reliability, and the respect he earned from his team. His leadership was particularly evident in Urban Corps’ collaboration with the North County Transit District, where he not only contributed to the project but also completed railroad worker safety training. His dedication and achievements led to him being hired as a staff member at Urban Corps.
“Wakilongo Milenge, was a dedicated Corpsmember of Urban Corps who radiated an unwavering spirit of positivity and resilience that has profoundly impacted his Corps, peers, and community,” said Lauren Welch, Development Director at Urban Corps. “His remarkable journey from the Republic of Congo to the United States, fueled by the dream of a better life, serves as an enduring source of inspiration.” If extra help or staff was needed at the Corps, Wakilongo would always volunteer to help. “Without question.”
Wakilongo’s commitment to national service and civic engagement extends beyond his Corps positions. During his free time, he volunteers at his local community church and supports fellow refugees by assisting them in overcoming obstacles and providing essential support like translation services. Wakilongo’s growth as a Corpsmember is a compelling reason for others to learn about Corps career pathways, and he often guides other refugees to Urban Corps, where he continues to support them as a role model and a beacon of hope. Wakilongo now considers the U.S. his home and earned U.S. citizenship earlier this year. Recognizing the importance of voting, Wakilongo often volunteered to encourage others to register to vote, even before he became a U.S. citizen. Wakilongo’s selflessness as a helping hand to new Corpsmembers and refugees is inspirational.
Joining Urban Corps offered Wakilongo the opportunity for a brighter future, and he enthusiastically embraced every learning opportunity and service opportunity to discover new career prospects in conservation. His outstanding service as Corpsmember, Crew Leader, and Corps staff reflects his commitment to environmental conservation and the valuable skills he acquired during his Corps experience. Wakilongo’s personal transformation through Urban Corps, where he simultaneously obtained a high school diploma and valuable job experiences while learning English, is remarkable. He views Urban Corps not just as a career opportunity but also as his second family that introduced him to new experiences and passions.
Despite receiving multiple job offers, Wakilongo’s decision to stay with Urban Corps is a testament to his dedication to Corps service and desire to uplift those around him and his community. Wakilongo plans to continue his Corps service and pursue irrigation certification courses at Cuyamaca College. His long-term goal is to obtain a Class B driver’s license and join Cal-Trans’ District 11 irrigation crew. Urban Corps has instilled in Wakilongo the importance of lifelong learning, and he remains committed to personal growth with the support of the organization. Wakilongo identifies urban forestry and environmental conservation as critical issues that his generation can address through Corps programs. He believes that Corps service can inspire a love for nature in individuals and contribute to building greener communities for future generations.
Wakilongo Milenge’s Corps experience has been transformative, leading to tremendous personal and professional growth, civic engagement, and a commitment to environmental conservation. His story serves as a powerful example of the positive impact of Corps programs on individuals and communities.