Tony Truitt wasn’t always certain what path he wanted to take, but he knew he wanted a career that would help open doors. After one accounting class, he was hooked on the field. Truitt, 32, who will earn a bachelor’s in accounting from the Mike Ilitch School of Business with a 3.5 GPA, has lined up a job at General Motors, where he hopes to help others open doors of their own.
With his new role, Truitt is about to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, who worked for GM, serving in the plant for 30 years after returning from WW2. His career is, in some regards, a full-circle moment as he enters the corporate arm of the company.
“I wasn’t always certain of my path. I was in and out of college in my 20s, but after that first class, everything just resonated,” Truitt said. “There’s some wisdom with age and from that experience. My experience in the Ilitch School was the best decision I’ve ever made. My long hours of work have paid off, and now I’ve got a better way of life.”
A Detroit native and first-generation college graduate, Truitt discovered his love of accounting at New Mexico Community College before ultimately moving home and enrolling at the Ilitch School. He applied to join the Multicultural Professional Readiness Education Program (MPREP), where he secured multiple internships and mentors.
“There aren’t that many Black, male accountants. I had to leverage my resources through MPREP, and they connected me with mentors who were successful Black men,” Truitt said. “That’s something I hadn’t had before. Seeing these men live clean, successful and fulfilling lives – it they could do it, so could I. It was life-changing.”
Through MPREP, Truitt connected with a mentor from General Motors, Ken Brown. Brown, a financial analyst, encouraged Truitt to apply for an accounting internship with the company. Having previously completed an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Truitt was eager to gain some corporate accounting experience and accepted a summer internship.
“I just loved it, from minute one. It was a challenging internship, but I like to be challenged,” Truitt said. “I feel like I was valued at GM. There were senior-level executives who really wanted to get to know me.”
The internship experience paved the way for a job, and when he starts in his new role, Truitt is confidant his colleagues will already know him and his work ethic. He credits his mentors — including Brown and Marvin Washington, vice president and global head of mechatronics and electronic modules purchasing at Stellantis, and MPREP staff members Lauren Scott and Lynita Taylor — with helping him establish a professional reputation.
“I did everything I was asked to do, and it all worked out. The material was challenging and adjusting to being in school again after being out for two and a half years wasn’t easy,” Truitt said. “But, I’m breaking a cycle. I came from an impoverished background – and the most important thing was finding a career to better yourself. The Ilitch School made that possible for me.”
He hopes to one day serve as an MPREP mentor to a future Ilitch School student, and to use his career as a platform to encourage parents and children in Detroit to make education a priority.
“I’m looking forward to being part of the historic transformation that’s happening within the automotive industry and in Detroit’s revitalization,” Truitt said. “I also want to help the next generation. I’ve had a lot given to me, and I want to give that back.”