Alumni Spotlight: Q&A with Derrick Barnes, Class of 2023

May 30, 2024

We caught up with recent alum Derrick Barnes, a rising sophomore at American University in Washington, DC, to ask about his first year of college. 

What was the next step for you after graduating from MMFS? 

After MMFS, I started school at American University (AU) in Washington D.C. I am currently studying Public Relations & Strategic Communications with a minor in Legal Studies. I will graduate in the spring of 2027.


What are you focusing on right now?

I am currently in school where I work as an AU ambassador, giving campus tours to prospective families from all over the world. This summer, I am interning as a Research and Media Intern at the New York City Office of the Mayor.


How did MMFS prepare you for life after high school?

MMFS taught me the importance of advocating for myself and my academic accommodations, which I firmly believe contributed to my success in my first year of college.


Do you have a favorite memory of MMFS?

My favorite memory at MMFS was my three years in math with John Papa. Having the same group of students for all three years helped us build a deep sense of brotherhood and camaraderie. Additionally, John Papa played a pivotal role in my high school experience and my development as a young man, serving as a mentor to me throughout high school and today.


Does having a learning disability affect your choices in life after MMFS? If so, how?

Having a learning disability has influenced several of my life choices after MMFS. For instance, knowing that I have ADHD and that my focus is better in the morning and afternoon, I strategically scheduled all my classes during those times to optimize my focus and performance.


Your advice to MMFS graduating seniors?

Networking is essential for career growth. Identify successful individuals in your desired field, connect with them, and learn from their experiences. Cultivating these relationships can provide invaluable insight and opportunities for your career goals.


Have any Quaker Spices really stuck with you?

One of the Quaker values that stuck with me is the importance of community. Leaving the MMFS community after 13 years was one of the biggest adjustments I had to make, but it was crucial for me to find a community at AU, which I have been fortunate to find.


What’s on your Life “To Do” list?

On my life to-do list right now is to intern at a press office for a congressperson on Capitol Hill and at a PR firm like Pinkston. I also aim to attend a top 14 law school to become a civil attorney specializing in defamation. Additionally, MMFS instilled in me a love of travel, so I would love to study law abroad at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the near future.


If you could have dinner with any three people, who would you choose and why?

Three people I would like to have dinner with are Jay-Z, Barack Obama, and LeBron James. The wealth of knowledge and experience they would bring to the table would be incredibly inspiring and insightful.


Do you have any secret talents?

A secret talent of mine is that I can do a backflip!


What is one app you can’t live without? 

One app I can’t live without is TikTok, but to be honest I would be so much more productive if I didn’t have TikTok.


Describe the rest of your life in 5 words?

Success, learning, family, traveling, enjoyment.

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