This Q&A is part of the story series Voices of Drake that highlights the diversity, ambition, and passion of the incredible people who make up our campus community. In honor of Black History Month, we will be sharing a collection of interviews to spotlight Black voices in our community. This week’s story introduces Trinity Harris, junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drake University.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Trinity Harris. I am a junior double majoring in International Relations and Law, Politics, and Society (LPS). I am also double minoring in Human Rights and American Sign Language. I am involved in more than seven organizations on campus and hold leadership positions in five of them. My passion is “being a voice for those in an unjust situation and helping to amplify their voices.”
What does Black History Month mean to you?
From not even being considered a person to having the first Black President, Black History Month puts a focal point on Black achievements and how far we have come. It teaches Black children about the atrocities that our people had to go through and how we are still standing today. Black history is every Black person that you will ever see. There are so many stories that are still not uncovered to this day. Although Black history month should be every month, this provides a specific month that we are able to focus, appreciate, and celebrate our people.
Why did you choose to attend Drake?
During the pandemic, there was a slight chance that I was not going to go to college at all. However, my admission counselor, Veronica McLaughlin, was trying to get me to come to Drake and helping me to look for scholarships. My father ended up getting COVID, and I thought “I’m going to take a year off and go to college later.” When Veronica learned about my father contracting the virus, our conversations were no longer about attending Drake. Instead, she focused on how she could help me and my family, and she became a person I could lean on for support. It was in those conversations that I knew I wasn’t just a number to Drake. It gave me a glimpse of the culture at Drake and how I was going to be treated.
What is your favorite thing about Drake?
My favorite thing about Drake is the ability to know the faculty and staff on a more personal level. The reason I came to Drake is because I felt like more than a number, and that is how I feel when I am engaging with faculty and staff.
In what ways have you grown since coming to Drake?
I have grown in learning how to use my voice more. There are always going to be people who attempt to silence you, especially at a predominately white institution. However, if when you encounter those people, you learn how not to be detoured by them, you will prove to yourself just how strong you are. So being able to find my voice and not be scared to use it no matter who is in the room, would be the biggest way that I have grown since coming to Drake. Never let anyone take your voice, and if you aren’t in the room, if you speak loud enough and to the right people—you will be there.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
After I graduate, I hope to go to law school. I want to study criminal and immigration law. Down the line, I plan to open a law firm dedicated to helping minority people.
Who has been some of your important mentors during your time at Drake?
There have been many people that have positively impacted me, but a few of my most influential mentors have been: Dean of Students Hannah Clayborne, Director of the Counseling Center Kayla Bell-Consolver, and Area Coordinator Ezra Krivolavy.
Are you involved in any student organizations, groups, or community service work? Tell us about those experiences.
I am president of the Phi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I also serve on the executive board of the Student Senate as the Vice President of Student Organizations. I also serve as a Resident Assistant. Additionally, there are many organizations that I am a member of, including: Coalition of Black Students, Delta Theta Phi Pre-Law Undergraduate Fraternity, and the NAACP of Des Moines. Through all these experiences I have gained leadership skills, lifelong friends, and a deeper connection with the Black community.
What do you hope is accomplished during the month of celebration and recognition?
During this month, I hope to spread awareness and tell Black people that this is not the only month to celebrate themselves and our people. Never apologize for being Black and taking up space that you belong in. Lastly, I hope that people can gain some self-awareness of what it means to be Black and live in our skin.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life, and what lessons did that person teach you?
My usual answer would be my mom. However, I would just say all Black women have influenced me and taught me lessons even when they didn’t know they did. When walking through life as a Black woman and not seeing as much representation for people who look like you in positions that you one day hope to be. It is a lesson in itself. One of the biggest things that I have had to learn is you belong where your path leads you. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel as if you are not good enough or you shouldn’t be where you are, or insignificant. You are there because you deserve to be there, and you are more than enough. I have had to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and being unapologetically me. I know that all of this is easier said than done, but these are lifelong lessons that I will always use.
How do you like to spend your free time? Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
I like to spend my free time learning and practicing American Sign Language and reading books. Learning more allows me to have a cultural understanding of cultures outside of mine. The books that I enjoy reading are about being Black (because no one knows everything about being Black), hearing others’ experiences, and how they were able to overcome their struggles.
What advice would you like to give to a student thinking about coming to Drake next year?
One thing that I would tell a student coming to Drake is that you need to be prepared. If it wasn’t for the trials and tribulations that I have had to face at Drake, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Yes, I mean in classes, but I also mean the experiences of campus life. Going to a predominately white institution as a Black person there are some trials and tribulations that you will face within the ignorance of the people around you. You will have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. There will be spaces where you are the only Black student or the only person of Color and people are looking at you as if you are carrying the entire minority community on your back.