David C. Turner, III, a senior Africana studies major was honored with a 2013 Presidential Outstanding Student Award for his extensive research, presentation, and lecture experience, as well as the leadership he has shown as a student at CSU Dominguez Hills.
“It is really a testament to what I have done over the years [at CSU Dominguez Hills].” Turner said of receiving the award. “When they began to read my description [at the awards celebration], I started reminiscing about a meeting I had with Dr. Munashe Furusa [professor of Africana studies and newly appointed dean of the College of Arts and Humanities] during my freshman year. After I turned in a sub-par assignment, he met with me and told me, ‘If [pursuing Africana Studies] is what you want to do, then excellence is not a recommendation: it is a requirement!’ After those words I have done everything in my power to personify excellence.”
True to that creed, he has served at CSU Dominguez Hills as the president for the Organization of Africana Studies for three years, as well as a Male Success Alliance Task Force member, college representative to ASI, student consultant for the Academic Senate, and an instructional and research assistant. He is a member of the Pan African Union and the Black Student Union on campus as well as the Leadership Alliance, a national undergraduate research association.
Turner is a past recipient of the Omega Psi Phi Lamda Omicron chapter scholarship and has participated in Student Research Day, earning second place in his second year in 2013.
His contributions extend beyond the university and into the community. As the Urban Scholars academic support coordinator for the Social Justice Learning Institute based in Inglewood, he has served as an academic counselor to black and Latino male adolescents, teaching them research skills, tracking their academic progress, and developing intervention strategies in collaboration with the program and their teachers at their respective high schools.
As a high school student with an average GPA, he had a mentor in his Morningside High School English teacher and CSU Dominguez Hills alumnus Cedric Robins (Class of ’98, B.A., English) who inspired Turner to teach. But it would be Africana studies, not English where he would find his true teaching passion as well as a capacity for compassion, critical thinking, and leadership.
“I have always been told that the best leaders don’t see themselves as leaders; they see themselves as servants of the people. I try to do that where I can,” Turner said. “So if I can help out with a paper, if I can provide guidance, pass along information people might need, or even just listen to someone’s problems and being supportive… I try to do that.”
The McNair scholar was accepted to Harvard, University of Texas-Austin, University of Maryland, Arizona State University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he ultimately chose to pursue a Master of Science in Higher Education. He begins the program in the fall.
Photos for this story are courtesy of Brown and Gayden Productions.