Derek Wright ’94: New Horizons & Paying it Forward
Alumni Derek Wright ’94 attributes much of his success as an entrepreneur and business owner to the sense of community and strong leadership principles built during his time at Spring Hill College.
Wright, owner of New Horizons Computer Learning Center, was recruited to the Hill in 1992 from Ponca City, Okla., to play basketball for the Badgers. Once on campus, Wright says he found himself fascinated by the depth and breadth of learning that a Jesuit education offers students.
“As a math major, the biggest surprise for me was religion class,” says Wright. “I discovered that the Jesuits have an amazing, realistic attitude and approach to teaching. We spent much of our time analyzing the history and scope of religion worldwide. I became fascinated with tying the history of the world into the religious timeline. It was a connection I had really never made before.”
Both inside and outside the classroom, Wright found the Spring Hill College atmosphere to be welcoming and open. “The College stands out because of its small, family feel,” says Wright. “I have friends scattered all over the country because of SHC. I still see my closest friends from the basketball team three or four times each year.”
After graduation, Wright’s Spring Hill College connections help land him his first job at CPSI in Mobile, Ala. “Attending a school that has an alumni network that cares about the school and students is very important,” adds Wright. “This connection also brings about the sense of giving back that doesn’t exist in many other places. The world needs more people paying it forward and helping others succeed in life.”
Wright’s business model also focuses on that principle—offering professional development and computer training primarily for adult learners. “Our classes are targeted at the end PC user who is using the Microsoft Office suite or Adobe graphics suite. We also cater to IT pros who want to build or enhance their career in the server, networking, database, and coding areas,” says Wright. “Our motto is to turn ambitions into marketable skills and business goals into tangible results—with learning methods for virtually every schedule and style.”
In 2004, Wright opened his first New Horizons business in Austin, Texas. Since then, he has expanded to operate in more than 20 cities across the United States with more than 350 employees. Continuing the company’s aggressive growth, Wright plans to double the size of his business in the next three to four years.
Wright lives in Austin with his wife, Brandi (Collins) Wright, a ’94 Spring Hill College graduate, and the couple’s two children, Chas and Brynne. “We’re definitely a Badger family,” says Wright. “Our 11-year-old daughter declared that she was going to SHC after alumni weekend last year.”
When asked about favorite memories from Spring Hill College, Wright shared that his overall experience was amazing, but that he particularly enjoyed the camaraderie and pride that came from being a part of the basketball program.
“We had great guys on the team, and the passion that Doc Pittman and Carl Nash (and later Joe Niland) had for the program kept us really motivated to play hard for SHC. Our winning teams were a special thing to be a part of,” says Wright. “All of the campus activities were great; playing golf, going to baseball games, and just hanging out in the dorms.”
When asked about any advice he might offer to freshmen at the Hill, Wright says that he can’t emphasize enough the importance of experiencing all that Spring Hill College and the surrounding areas have to offer. “Take advantage of the golf course and the beach. Our trips to New Orleans or to Gulf Shores were always fun filled,” adds Wright. “Make friends, lots of them. Get involved on the campus. Go to other cities with those friends and see the country, if not the world.”