Learning and Leading from Adversity
University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Class of 2019
Major: Political Science
Da'Juan’s first semester in a rural town north of Pittsburgh at Slippery Rock University did not go as planned. In the early morning one day in November, a group of students burst in to his dorm room shouting racial epitaphs and threats against his life, the only black one on the dormitory floor. His five roommates stood by him and the police and administration were notified, but the experience made Da’Juan begin to question if the school was a good fit for him.
The questions grew louder when the administration initially treated him as the aggressor; did not follow up swiftly and had no process to handle hate-based attacks. The main aggressor seemed to not be punished and everything was swept under the rug. Da’Juan spent the next month and a half living in fear for his life and eventually realized he needed to withdraw and regroup.
He transferred to Anne Arundel Community College back home and worked to afford a car he needed for transportation as the public transportation in Annapolis is so limited. A mentor Da'Juan has known since a young child, connected him to an internship at the MD House of Delegates and he worked with the chief of staff during the Jan-April session. This experience helped him get his confidence back and enabled Da'Juan to understand how to turn his challenges into something positive.
Da'Juan recently organized and led the March in Solidarity in Annapolis which he described as a peaceful march to support justice and equality - especially for African Americans. About 200 diverse supporters showed up and the crowd grew as the marchers walked down Main Street to the City Dock for a peace rally. Da’Juan was even recognized by Annapolis Mayor Pantelides who presented him with a city award recognizing his leadership of the peaceful march.
Da’Juan is interested in continuing to encourage youth in the city to become leaders and has his sight on some political aspirations. But, for now, in a few weeks he will be leaving for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) this upcoming semester and is looking forward to a new college experience. Da’Juan is sponsored by the Arundel Bay Area Jack and Jill, Inc., an organization that is dedicated to nurturing future leaders. Their goal seems aligned as this young man is on his way to becoming a great leader and is clearly making change in this world.
Read the following news articles about Da’Juan and the March :
Over 200 march in Annapolis for justice, understanding
Annapolis leaders look to improve community, police relations
Recent March displayed new generation of leadership
Listen to Da’Juan on Annapolis Podcast!
"There is no education like adversity." -- Disraeli