Sharing Our Brilliance and Stories of Hope Stories

We know our secret sauce is the amazing people in our community. We want you to get to know the incredible students and parents we get to journey with and the staff and volunteers who support our journey.

Meet Liliana, a student at Student U known for spreading joy. Her contagious laugh can often be heard rippling down our hallways as a middle school student in our program. When COVID-19 shut down in-person schools, Liliana logged onto Zoom every day to receive academic support from her afterschool coach, while continuing to spread positivity. This summer she created an advocacy campaign this summer called “Brown and Proud” to teach people that undocumented immigrants deserve dignity using the skills she learned at Student U.

Victoria Henderson Poole is a mother to three Student U students, Vanaya, Varyssa, and Xireon. She is also one of the strongest and most resilient women we know. As a highly engaged parent that is connected to DPS both as an employee and parent, she knows how difficult navigating school systems can be. Her youngest, Xireon, like many students in 2020, had a difficult school year. He felt isolated and found it difficult to stay motivated to show up fully to class. As a family they leaned on their Student U team to explore different support structures and found a solution that better supported Xireon in succeeding in school. Working alongside Student U both Victoria and her children now know how to advocate for the school settings and support they deserve to thrive academically and emotionally.

Donald is a High School Graduate as part of the Class of 2020. His dream is to rebuild Durham to make it affordable for people already living in this community. Donald has a goal to buy a piece of real estate and graduate physical therapy school by the time he is 21.

Joy has been with Student U since the beginning. She joined our community in 2007 as a member of our first class of students, and it has been home for her ever since. She graduated from NC A&T with her Bachelor’s in Social Work and is now striving towards greatness as a recent graduate from her Social Work Master’s Program.

Ms. Muriel Smith, our former Program Director, has a fierce passion for education. When she enters a room, she lights up the room with joy, radiating positivity through her echoing laugh. Her desire to uplift her community is contagious.

Bria Davenport is our Middle School Coordinator Assistant. Known for her trend-setting fashion choices and strong organization systems, every day she greets students with a warm smile. Bria is the glue that holds all of the pieces of our programming together and bonds our students through her activities to build a united community.



Niadiquay Everette, a Student U alumna, embodies the essence of who we have been, who we’re becoming, and what we believe is possible. Niadiquay is the first in her family to graduate college. She used the power of education and her voice to achieve greatness. Now in the classroom, she is changing the learning environment to ensure one day all students succeed in college and beyond.


Danielle Evans just graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Management and Society. She is a first-generation college graduate who joined Student U as a shy sixth-grader in 2010 and has grown into a confident professional as the Student U Grant Administration Intern, where she works on our finances and human resources team. Her ultimate goal is to lift up her community through her work in Non-Profit and Human Resources Management.