Randiss “Wonder” Hopkins, ’17, experienced a dream in his youth that propelled him to do backflips—literally. The dream and the events immediately following have led Hopkins to live and work with the mindset, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Hopkins recounts the dream with clarity as he shared in this LinkedIn post.
“As a little boy, growing up on the West Side of Chicago, I wanted to be a Power Ranger like almost every kid in the mid-late 90’s,” he wrote. “One of the older kids on my block, Lee (Pooh) Daniels was the ultimate Power Ranger and would teach us martial arts and kicks to acrobatic flips.”
Many of his friends on the block learned how to do backflips, Hopkins unfortunately hadn’t built the courage just yet.
“Everything changed when one night, I went to sleep and had a dream that I did a backflip,” continued Hopkins in his LinkedIn post. “The dream was so powerful, I woke up the next morning convinced that I did a backflip in reality. I was physically and mentally ready to not only make the attempt, but to actually do it! That same day, I gathered my friends for the big news. I didn’t even practice doing a backflip on my own before telling my friends I could flip. We gathered in my front yard, and after a little hesitation, I did it.”
From that day forward, Hopkins carries the affirmation he learned from this single experience: “If I can dream it, I can do it.”
With the belief in opening pathways through deep exploration and self-discovery, Hopkins taps into his mindset that any achievement he can dream of is not out of the realm of possibility. Coupled with his passion, Hopkins leads with intention in everything he does.
In 2022, he joined Nike to work on the brand’s design creative outreach and purpose initiatives. Hopkins had the opportunity to work alongside Nike legend and first Black footwear designer in history, Wilson Smith III, who became his genuine mentor and friend.
In his current role at Blue Ribbon Studios, a creative maker space and education resource dedicated to advancing the potential of Nike Design, Hopkins plans creative programs, workshops and events to inspire Nike’s global design community—reaching over 2,000 Nike designers across apparel, footwear, materials, color, graphics, etc.
During his first year, Hopkins supported a wide range of programming for the next generation of designers including Nike design interns and the Serena Williams Design Crew—a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that engaged young talent of color to design a collection for Serena Williams, widely considered to be the GOAT (Greatest of all Time) tennis player. Hopkins also assisted with producing a series of Nike Design Cafes meetings, interviews with athletes, and envisioned a “Speakeasy” showcase bringing Nike designers to share their other forms of creative expression and passion projects in a way that inspires community.
Seeking a meaningful purpose has always been reflected in Hopkins’ work in some way.
While at NIU, he met with a group of student leaders inspired to make a difference in their hometown of Chicago. Gathering over 150 like-minded students in under a year, the group traveled from NIU to volunteer across the city. From Chicago Public Schools to nonprofits to local parks, the team of students organized and participated in NIU’s first-ever Day of Service in Chicago.
“It was a reminder of how powerful we are together and probably one of the most inspiring moments of my life,” Hopkins said. “It was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Along with becoming a Power Ranger, Hopkins’ most passionate childhood dream was to make it to the NBA.
After graduating with his Bachelor of Music, Hopkins was offered a community relations internship with the NBA’s Orlando Magic. There he coordinated monthly staff and player volunteer projects, engaged with local nonprofits for NBA Cares initiatives and managed the team’s community social channels. This experience continued to fuel his desire to help others and eventually led him back to his home city in a meaningful way.
After his internship with the Orlando Magic, Hopkins went on to work for After School Matters (ASM), a nonprofit in Chicago that empowers teens to discover their passions and develop life skills. As an alumnus of the program, Hopkins attended the Chicago West Community Music Center while in high school where he discovered his passion for piano—which he went on to study at NIU.
In his role as a program specialist at ASM, Hopkins managed 30 creative after-school programs where he grew up on Chicago’s West Side and coordinated large-scale events to engage hundreds of high school teens across the city including an annual Kwanzaa Celebration, Peace Basketball Tournament, and Speak Life Showcase in honor of the late poet, activist, and former ASM instructor, Mama Brenda Matthews. His work at ASM reflected his deep love for Chicago, the arts, and curating events that unite people.
“Now at Nike, it feels like a fusion of all my passions, at the intersection of sports, the creative arts, and community,” Hopkins said. “It surely hasn’t been a linear path, but I trust in following my passions and wherever that leads me on this life journey.”
Hopkins goes the extra mile to be personable and make human connections, noting that community and collaboration makes big dreams possible.
“Individually we can climb mountains, but together we can move them,” he said.