Anyone who has spent any amount of time on the University of South Dakota campus in recent years has likely met Marcus Destin.
He is an overwhelming presence at USD student and sporting events, providing a loud, supporting voice to make a difference in the lives of people who choose to further their education in Vermillion.
On Thursday, Sept. 2, Destin was one of three keynote speakers at the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) annual banquet held in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
The theme of the banquet was “Fully Charged” and that term fits Destin perfectly.
He admitted to the banquet audience that he is a big man with a with big personality and a big voice.
“But believe it or not, I didn’t always show it. It was only in the last five or six years of living here in Vermillion that I’ve figured out that my voice can change things and I began trusting myself to be confident with that voice,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of places, yet somehow it wasn’t until I moved to this small town in this small state with a whole lot of white that I could finally hear God’s voice telling me who I was supposed to be.”
Destin noted that before moving to South Dakota, his life included playing football and working at Subway. It wasn’t until a blunt conversation with his mother that “I realized I had to figure out who I was for me, outside of football, outside of my friends, who was it that Marcus was destined to be?
What does he want to stand for and be associated with when people mention his name?” he said.
Destin said his father’s greatest advice to him was to “make yourself an asset, not an ass.”
Vermillion and the University of South Dakota, he said, helped him find his voice.
“USD gave me the opportunities for different experiences and got me involved with people who had already found their voice,” Destin said, “and who had decided what they wanted to do with it and those who were just like me who were yearning for purpose.”
Destin was chosen to speak at the Sept. 2 banquet thanks to an offer the VCDC made to the Vermillion community. People were invited to participate in the banquet’s storytelling activities that were facilitated by Plains Speaking People, an organization dedicated to sharing the stories of South Dakota. Plains Speaking People chose three stories that were submitted by Vermillionaires and the nominees were asked to present their stories at the VCDC banquet.
“We have plenty of stories to tell right here in our own community,” said Nate Welch, president and CEO of the VCDC. “Everyone has a story that is integral to who they are as a person; a story that explains a formative part of their past. The people of Vermillion and South Dakota in general are kind and hard working.”
Kim Bartling, the founder of Plains Speaking People, saw a need in the community to hear real-life stories from one another. The act of sharing personal histories with one another is a powerful one and it is becoming less and less common to sit down, listen and have an honest connection with people. This disappearing connection with others was exacerbated by the pandemic.
However, Plains Speaking People is dedicated to remembering where South Dakota communities have been and where they are going.
According to information provided by the VCDC to those attending the banquet, Destin, 26, has called Vermillion home for six years. Born in Aurora, Colorado to Myesha and Lament Sellers and raised in Houston, Texas with his siblings Mason, Mea and Myles - along with a spoiled springer spaniel named Lily, Destin’s' journey had stops in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina before he put down roots in Vermillion.
‘New’ Home Town
Destin is the Social Media & Brand Engagement Coordinator at USD. His commitment to making a difference has been recognized as he has received many accolades including The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Region IV- West Undergraduate Rising Star 2020 Award; South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) Organizational Leadership 2019 Award for the Union of African American Students; and the 2018 USD President's The Champions of Inclusive - University Leadership Excellence Award.
Destin is the co-owner of Never Offended Always Humble, a lifestyle, mantra & belief in one's potential, which celebrates perseverance through pressure and humbled growth.
He will continue to build this brand through continuing his education, creating a record label, starting a consulting company, and launching a podcast. In addition, this rapper/artist has had four Vermillion shows. Destin balances work with a love of pop culture, black and white films, and collecting vinyls.
He champions his "new" hometown.
"Vermillion is a supportive and open-minded community that will come together when you least expect it,” Destin said. “An entire city will show up for you -- one person.
"Also, if I could bottle a Vermillion summer and sell it, I would be rich! There is something special about how beautiful Vermillion is in the summer. The vibe is different; the air feels different; the stars are brighter."
Those Vermillion summers and his love of music and community has Destin committed to bringing a big music festival to Vermillion in the future.
“It’s going to change the game” he said.