1in10 Success Stories: Dorcas Brunson

I met Raquell Holmes in May 2010, three months before improvscience was born. Raquell had been given a grant to explore combining creativity and science. She began leading workshops to analyze the ideas she was shaping into a company.

Raquell and I became close friends and I was a huge supporter of her ideas. In fact, through many late nights, doubts, assurances and conversations about what she wanted improvscience to look like the framework began to emerge. Through questions, suggestions and looking at the need to be filled, we began to acquire a bank of content. She knew well the people she wanted to reach—scientists—and their needs. Being an organizational person, I helped her give structure to her thoughts. I also prodded her to gather the necessary technical equipment needed for a professional business, and the first thing to go was that old flip phone!

So I was there at the birth, helping to guide Raquell into seeing new possibilities. As her friend, I went to a few improvisational classes with her. Improv is definitely not my thing-I will leave that to someone else! But, because I knew what Raquell had to offer, I was able to suggest ways she could use the experiences we gained from them. Sometimes, she’d argue, “But that’s not what I do!” I’d respond, "YOU are what you do.”

So that it is, improvscience is Raquell and is what Raquell IS—someone who innately knows how to connect people, how to have meaningful conversations. I have a personal story in this regard which holds great importance for me. My youngest daughter was 8 years old when Raquell and I met. Brianna had always struggled with anxiety and social interactions, causing her to be withdrawn and stand-offish. It was amazing to watch how  Raquell interacted with her, creating a connection so quickly and easily. From the first moment, they were kindred spirits, having their own conversations and Brianna’s life was significantly changed.

The ability to connect is what Raquell brings to her clients because she teaches others how to have new conversations, new ways of talking and to build community. I attended Raquell’s workshops to see her work magic. I saw how she helped scientists unlock something they didn’t even know was locked.

I am a Mental Health Counselor and have worked at a Department of Mental Health locked Forensic Psychiatric Unit for 15 years. I love my residents, so it is a pleasure to connect with them where they are. But my way of working changed after meeting Raquell. She opened up new ways for me to reach them and gave me new language to help them develop a new “performance” that they can draw from to focus on being their best self. The Wrap-up meeting at the end of the day has produced many meaningful and introspective conversations. Raquell taught me a wealth of new ways to help provide support for them.

We are still close friends. I’m still learning from her. And I’m still offering her good ideas!