Alumni Spotlight: Duncan McGillivray-Smith

November 16, 2023

An artist from a young age, Duncan McGillivray-Smith (MMFS ‘17) recently graduated from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. He talks here about the lasting impact of his MMFS education, the challenges and opportunities of college life, and what lies ahead for this talented young artist. 


Q: What college did you attend? Why did you choose that school? 

A: I attended Pratt institute, because I felt as though the school’s curriculum best suited my interests, while also giving me the opportunity to stay in NYC.

Q: What was your major? 

A: I got my bachelors degree in painting. 


Q: Best advice for our graduating seniors? 

A: Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Find your interests and follow them. Good things will come with effort and time. Life is a marathon not a sprint. 

Q: Describe a challenge you have faced since graduating from MMFS and how you got through it.

A: My biggest challenge has been learning to advocate for myself, both in my personal life and in college. Most schools have some sort of student services that can be helpful for getting what you need. I highly advise seeking them out. Being upfront and honest with your professors goes a long way too. You will find most professors are very understanding and will work to accommodate you. Don’t be shy about reaching out to them if you need help. 

Q: What impact did MMFS have in your life after graduation? How did MMFS help to prepare you to do well in college? Were there any unexpected challenges?

A: MMFS helped me define my interests and beliefs. This was extremely important going forward because it allowed me to be confident in my future, and be assured in what I think is right.

Q: Tell us about any other interesting activities and/or traveling that you have been involved in since graduating from MMFS.

A: I have been a skateboarder ever since I was little, and it is something I have continued to pursue since graduating. Other interests have been playing guitar and hiking. Being out of school has also given me the opportunity to travel. I have recently been to Mexico, Australia, and Germany.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to tell the MMFS community, the outgoing seniors specifically?

A: There are lots of great opportunities for young people out there at the moment. Take advantage of them if you can!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Ideally I want to go to graduate school. This would be a really great opportunity for me to improve my practice, and potentially become a teacher myself someday. 

Q: What Quaker values have stayed with you post graduation? 

A: I am passionate about peacekeeping and resolving conflicts without violence. It is sometimes hard, but it is important to resolve problems without physical confrontation.

If you want to connect with Duncan, please forward inquiries to

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