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Talent Case Study: LeAndre Yarrell: Mentoring Leads to Opportunities for Advancement for a Combat Injured Veteran

Learn how a leading corporation leveraged a federal internship program to recruit top talent, including a U.S. Army veteran. 

Portrait of LeAndre Yarrell

Alma Mater: Wilmington University

Major: Computer & Network Security

Graduation Year: 2016

Employer: Northrop Grumman Corporation

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LeAndre Yarrell retired as a United States Army Sergeant who served in Afghanistan. Following his military service, he entered Wilmington University in New Castle, DE. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Network Security in February 2016, and is a member of Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society. While at Wilmington University, LeAndre learned about the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) program from the university’s Office of Disability Services. He applied, interviewed and enrolled in the WRP database. Since LeAndre had an internship that was converted to a contracting position, he did not accept the summer jobs he was offered through the WRP, including one with the Department of Navy.

LeAndre did accept the offer of being a mentee in U.S. Business Leadership Network’s (now Disability:IN) 2015 Rising Leaders Mentoring Program (RLMP). The RLMP was a six-month career mentoring opportunity for college students and recent graduates with disabilities through linkages to business professionals from Disability:IN partner companies. His mentor was Dan Ellerman, a director with Northrop Grumman Corporation. As a result of his active participation in the Rising Leaders Mentoring Program and a strong recommendation from his mentor, LeAndre was accepted as a participant in the Rising Leadership Academy. 

Through Dan Ellerman’s mentoring and the Academy training sessions, which encouraged him to embrace his disability, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), LeAndre maximized the networking and interviewing opportunities during the Academy and immediately following the conference. When LeAndre graduated from college, he accepted a position as a Security Analyst with Incyte, where he served as the firewall administrator, among other roles, and was responsible for the development and implementation of security policies, standards and procedures to ensure the protection of corporate data against unauthorized users, access, modification or destruction.

LeAndre’s career plan is based on setting goals and acquiring the professional skills, experience and accomplishments that will lead him to the C-Suite level. During his nearly two successful years with his first employer, LeAndre grew his professional network and kept in touch with his first mentor, Dan Ellerman. In May 2017, LeAndre accepted an outstanding job offer from Northrop Grumman Corporation and moved to the Washington, D.C. area. LeAndre is well on his way to achieving his career goal.

LeAndre also has life goals that include community service. One of his special interests is to raise awareness of PTSD and securing benefits for veterans. He is also committed to helping youth in low-income areas through coaching basketball and helping with food and clothing drives. His ultimate vision is to open a center where youth can come to play basketball, receive a hot meal and be safe.

Dan Ellerman shared the following about his experience as LeAndre’s mentor.

After our first meeting, I knew LeAndre was an exceptional individual with talents and skills any employer would value. Most of our time together in the RLMP was spent getting him to understand how valuable he was to organizations; how to position himself to showcase his talent; and talk through the job offers once they started coming in. I think LeAndre was shocked when he had choices from a number of companies, including mine, prior to graduating. It’s been a career high for me to watch LeAndre grow, build confidence and succeed in his chosen field. I can’t wait to see the impact and legacy he will leave behind.     

*The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the U.S. Department of Defense manage the WRP.