Meet the Men

Six young, black men from Akron, Ohio—each of them is determined to disprove society’s stereotypes and low expectations.


Brandyn CostaBrandyn Costa

Brandyn Costa graduated in December 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Akron, where he spent the spring semester of his junior year abroad as an intern for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto. After graduation, he took off time to travel through Spain, Italy and France. Brandyn works for the United Way of Summit County as well as for The University of Akron’s EX[L] Center (Experiential Learning Center for Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement) as a Special Projects Manager. He is a board member of Alchemy, Inc., and is currently deciding when to start law school.

“I must do something which helps people.”

Stacee StarrStacee Starr

Stacee Starr will graduate from Kent State University in December 2016 with a degree in Communications and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Currently, he is working to put on shows for The Cue, an artist collective in Akron, and he is doing photo shoots on a regular basis. He is considering graduate school.

“Through consistency we find peace.”

Imani ScruggsImani Scruggs

Imani Scruggs graduated in August 2015 with a degree in Psychology from Case Western Reserve University, where he spent the spring semester of his junior year abroad in Barcelona, Spain. On campus, he serves as Co-President for The Brotherhood and has also recently started a student diversity committee. He is graduating in May 2016 from Case Western with a Master of Social Work. Currently, he works part-time as a Program Assistant with The Ohio State University Extension in their 4-H Youth Development program.

“Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I will learn.”

Tyler JonesTyler Jones

Tyler Jones obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business at the age of 20 from Tiffin University, where he was awarded an athletic scholarship and finished #5 on the all-time reception list. He earned his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Homeland Security from Tiffin University in February 2016. Currently, he is back in Akron, Ohio, coaching football and basketball at his alma mater, Buchtel High School, as the Freshmen Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach. He is on the lookout for other job opportunities.

Darius SimpsonDarius Simpson

Darius Simpson is graduating in April 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. He is very involved in his community, especially in bridging local government to community needs. He is an award-winning, globally recognized poet. One of his poems went viral in June 2015. At EMU, he was President of the Poetry Society. His team won third place at the national competition of the 2015 CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational) and won fourth in 2016.

“My dream is to change the world, for my words to be heard around the  world, to change the world, period.”

Shawntrail SmithShawntrail Smith

Shawntrail Smith attended Hiram College on a basketball scholarship and transferred to University of Akron Wayne College to play basketball. He currently excels as a supervisor at Walmart in Akron, Ohio. He’s still planning to finish his degree.


Since 2003, Alchemy Inc. has provided in-school mentoring programs to over 1500 elementary, middle, and high school-aged urban youth in the Akron and Cleveland areas.

In 2011, the first core group graduated from high school. 26 out of 28 of the young men were heading to college.

Touching the Soul

Kwame Scruggs PH.D.KWAME SCRUGGS, Ph.D. Founder, Executive Director and primary facilitator of Alchemy, Inc., has over 20 years experience working with urban youth and holds a Ph.D. and MA in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. He has been a featured speaker at the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology of New York City and Cleveland, Ohio.



Jerry Kwame WilliamsJERRY KWAME WILLIAMS Co-Facilitator, artist, and drummer, has worked with Alchemy since its inception. He has over 25 years of direct service and management experience with Cuyahoga County Department of Human Services. He is also a pre-college instructor with the Upward Bound program at Kent State University and has served as a youth mentor and developer for numerous programs, including Rites of Passage.

“…because our life is really a body wrapped around a dream.”
—Michael Meade