Rattler honored by USA Today

For Darius Graham, a normal day could include class, working at the Department of Children & Families through the Gubernatorial Fellows Program, taking books to low-income children, a mock trial or even the setup of a library at one of the local community centers.

But none of this is too much for Graham.

He simply says, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Graham, 21, a senior political science student was named a member of the 2006 All-USA College Academic First Team by USA TODAY, an honor that only he and 19 other students from around the country will share this year.

According to Graham this honor was a pleasant surprise because of the credentials his competitors have earned.

“You apply with hopes that you would win, but when I actually won I was shocked,” he said.

Graham said that he wanted people to know that he is “just a representation of so many outstanding students at FAMU.”

Growing up in Saulsbury, N.C., he was bussed into Charlotte to attend an all-black high school.

“I was a behavioral problem in public school and I got bad grades. My mom had to come to a lot of parent-teacher conferences about me,” said Graham. “My counselors in high school would pass out if they knew that I had gone on to become the student I am.”

In effect, the shift to the all-black high school along with “people who stuck with him and encouraged him,” was a part of his motivation to succeed.

“You don’t often see minorities or students from HBCU’s being recognized in the news,” Graham said. “I want people to see that a minority student has done it and that I am from FAMU. There’s nothing different from a student at Howard and one at FAMU, except the students at Howard get more recognition.”

Members of the All-USA College Academic First Team are full-time undergraduate students who are active in their communities in addition to excelling at their studies. Students submitted an essay detailing an outstanding endeavor while in college, a transcript and examples of their leadership and extracurricular activities to be selected.

His essay on a program he developed out of his passion for national literacy helped in getting him selected. The initiative is called Books All Around. Graham works to find schools and businesses to assist in providing books to community centers for children.

For this honor, he will receive a trophy and a $2,500 cash reward. Hopefully, it will be just the cushion Graham needs to relocate to one of the law schools he is considering.

Having been accepted to Berkeley and Northwestern University and considering Duke, Graham will probably be bidding the southeast “farewell” soon.

After completing law school, Graham is considering practicing criminal law. That is something he thinks he could be passionate about. Whether he becomes a prosecutor or a defense attorney, he wants to make a difference, a position he takes even now.

“As one of the most noted Fellows in America, DCF is fortunate to have Darius on board,” said Zoraya Suarez, a spokesperson for DCF. “The Office of Homelessness has benefited by his role in serving some of Florida’s most needy.”

“I don’t consider myself to be smart or exceptional, just driven and blessed,” he said.

Graham said he sees himself helping non-profit organizations, corporations or universities that need problems solved as a welcomed task.

He said he isn’t seeking the glamour of working for a big company with no problems because those types of companies don’t pose enough of a challenge for him; he wants to grow by helping others achieve and by being involved in those achievements.

“We are so sure that Darius will continue on this path and make a name not only for himself, but also increase the quality of life for citizens across the country,” FAMU interim President Castell Bryant said to the Tallahassee Democrat.

For more information on Books All Around go to http://www.booksallaround.org.

Contact Raven Davis at famuannews@hotmail.com