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 recognition and celebration of Black History Month, we will be sharing a collection of interviews to spotlight Black voices in our community. This week’s story introduces senior David Duncan, who is studying Health Care Administration and Occupational Therapy within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a first-generation student and currently the President of Coalition of Black Students at Drake. I also have been involved in the Flight program and in various leadership roles since my first semester. I was previously on the executive council of my residence hall. I have been involved in the Coalition of Black Students and served on its executive council since my second semester as I was a first year intern. Lastly, I am one of two facilitators of Barbershop Talk at Drake, which creates a safe space for Black men on campus to have open discussions and create a community among us.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means a lot to me. It is a way to embrace our roots and to show how far we have come as African Americans in this country. It shows how we fought and how we continue to fight today and thrive in this country without being on an equal playing field as others. Being able to be immersed by our history great leaders that have helped pave the way for me and so many others that look like me in this country.

Why did you choose to attend Drake?
I chose to attend Drake because of the programs that they have based on my major and how they would prepare me for post-graduate employment.

What is your favorite thing about Drake?
My favorite thing about Drake is the Black community on and off campus. There is so much rich Black history here in Des Moines and being able to meet people who show up and support each other has been a game changer for my college experience and has led me to succeed as far as I have already.

In what ways have you grown since coming to Drake?
I have grown in maturity since coming to Drake. I have taken on a lot of responsibilities since being here and really stepped out of my comfort zone, which has contributed to growing in maturity and my ability to lead.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I hope to go to the Air Force and then continue my education in occupational therapy in grad school.

Who has been some of your important mentors during your time at Drake?
Some of my important mentors during my time at Drake are my advisor Leslie Jackson, former Coalition of Black Students President Keyera Melton, and close friends Damon Harrell and Parfait Ouedraogo who started Barbershop Talk my first year at Drake.

Are you involved in any student organizations, groups, or community service work? Tell us about those experiences.
I am involved in the Coalition of Black Students, Barbershop Talk, Flight Program, and have volunteered in places like the Knapp Center and the Sprout Garden. Many of my experiences overlap in these as many of them are in place for majority Black students or students of color and have made my experience at Drake unforgettable and given me many skills that I will have with me for life.

What do you hope is accomplished during this month of celebration and recognition?
I hope to be able to celebrate our progress through events and having recognition to not just the big names, but others who have contributed to us being in the place we are now as compared to where we started in this country. I hope to acknowledge the harsh truths and realities of the past without censorship and sugarcoating what happened to my people. I want people to not look at me to educate them but for them to do their own learning as it is not my job and I do not intend to do so. I want to indulge myself into more knowledge of the local Black History that Des Moines has and attend events that will be happening in the community.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life, and what lessons did that person teach you?
I would say my biggest influence in my life would be my mom. She taught me how to be resilient and to never count myself out, that no one is better than anyone else and to treat everyone with kindness no matter what because we are all human and have our own problems, and she taught me how to have humility and empathy. Lastly, she taught me to not take life too seriously and to have fun because we only have one.

How do you like to spend your free time? Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
I like to spend my free time listening to music, playing sports, and spending time with my friends and family. Some of my hobbies include writing poems and reading.

What advice would you give to a student coming to Drake?
Some advice that I would give to a drake student coming to Drake next year would be to surround yourself with people that support and care about you. College is hard and a strong support system is something that we all need especially if you are far from home. I would also say to pick your commitments wisely and responsibly, it is easy to get yourself involved in a lot of things on campus like organizations and clubs, but it is hard to execute them all if you join too many.