From Student to Mentor


Photo by Alex Hu.

December 8, 2015—After graduating from Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, David Peake (C’17) came to Georgetown College, where he is a women’s and gender studies major. In his free time, Peake works with the Institute for College Preparation (ICP), a Georgetown program that offers pre-college tutoring and mentorship to DC public school students. Peake has also been involved in the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and was featured in the Discovery Channel's documentary Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper. We sat down with Peake to talk about his views on education and how his perspective has changed as he has moved from the role of student to mentor.

Georgetown College: What do you do as a teacher/mentor for DC students?
David Peake: I work as a teacher’s assistant for a program named ICP. We cater to 7th grade through 12th grade. I primarily work with the 10th grade students. My focus is black males. I know what means to be one. I know what it means to be followed in the store. I know what it means to be afraid to put a hood on in the rain. I know what it feels like to ask the question: am I next? I know what it feels like to be a target. I can identify with the students.

I’ve been working there as a TA for two years. As a TA, I not only ensure that the students have a safe learning environment, I mentor them as well, answering questions about college [and] college essays, and just being a reliable source for them. One of the greatest traits of some of the best mentors I’ve had is transparency. With that being said, I try my best to do the same.

GC: How has your perspective changed moving from a student to a teacher/mentor role?
DP: As a teacher and mentor, I find myself utilizing the same advice and tactics that many of my mentors used with me. As a mentee, I appreciated the mentors I had, but I didn’t fully understand what it meant to carry this role. I didn’t quite understand how important this role was. I only saw a person taking me out to dinner. I only saw a person giving me advice. I didn’t see how much work they put into making sure I “made it.” I now have more of an appreciation for the art of mentoring. I have learned what is useful and what is not when it comes to mentoring.

GC: The White House’s "My Brother’s Keeper Initiative" was started “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.” What does My Brother’s Keeper get right? And what would you change or add?
DP: My Brother’s Keeper gets demand right. When I look in the mirror, I see myself dying. I see my presence being killed. I see my existence as not needed. I see an epidemic. I see a demand to save black males. While it may be easy for me to see this, not everyone shares the same experience.

Overall, I think My Brother’s Keeper allows others to see this experience as well. My Brother’s Keeper makes my reality everyone else’s reality. As far as making My Brother’s Keeper better, I ask one question: how can it give young black males hope? At this time, I don’t quite see that hope just yet.

GC: What would your top three priorities be as an education leader either in administration like Tim King (F’89, L’93), the founder of Urban Prep Academies, or as a teacher in the classroom?
DP: My top three priorities as a leader in education would be: It’s a daunting task, but honestly finding a way to bring hope. It’s been lost. Finding a way to provide the resources that my friends and I, and others from my neighborhood, are still at a loss for. It may sound simple, but adding love. When I walk down my block, I see no love. When another black face is killed, I see no love. When I see the disproportionate rates in which black males aren’t graduating high school and college, I see no love. It’s needed.

GC: Why did you choose to major in women's and gender studies and have your studies had an impact on your views on education? If so, what kind of impact and what topics have interested you the most?
DP: In terms of my major, I see it as something that overlaps into every field. Intersectionality is the key word for my major. So many times, people get the notion that my major only involves looking at the aspect of women in terms of gender. I’ve come to learn that women’s and gender studies is much more than people give it credit for. It’s an overlap into education, an overlap into government, and an overlap into how I experience life as a black male every day. It’s the textbooks and materials that minority students lack. It’s the disproportionate test scores we see play out with minority students.

Intersectionality has probably interested me the most with my major. I think this concept plays out on a daily basis in the classroom. As a future educator, it gives me the bridge that I need to connect with various students and mentees. Our gender, class, and many of the other boxes we often check make us interconnected us human beings, even if these boxes differ greatly for various people. Intersectionality also means a lot to me because it displays that we, as human beings, no matter how poor, no matter how black, no matter how marginal, share the aspect of some type of privilege. 

—Elizabeth Wilson

Related Information

Learn more about Georgetown’s Institute for College Preparation and how to get involved.

Urban Prep Academies is a nonprofit organization operating a network of public college-prep boys' schools in Chicago. Urban Prep was founded by Georgetown alumnus Tim King (F’89, L’93).