Descatur Potier '03

Setting the standard for community service

While Descatur “Dez” Potier ’03 was still a high school student at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the former semi-professional dancer volunteered his free time to give free break-dancing instruction to inner city children in Boston. Since coming to Trinity, Potier has made even more time to reach out, setting a high standard for service, while enriching the lives of children in the neighboring community.

“When I came to Trinity, I guess I wanted to make up for lost time,” says Potier, who, understandably, had to limit his high school service activities during the busy college preparation period. “I had a lot of ideas in my mind about what I wanted to do and what I wanted to bring here.”

“Community service is something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Potier. “There’s so much that we can learn from the community and so much that they can learn from us.”

Creating a new place for children to learn

The result of Potier’s vision is the Adolescent Mentoring Project (AMP), a widely praised Saturday morning program at the Boys and Girls Club at Trinity College that provides breakfast, academic tutoring, and social activities for local children. Now in its second year, the entirely student-run AMP has grown in enrollment and in the number of  Trinity students who give their time each week to be tutors.

“When we first started, only one kid came, and we had about 15 tutors there,” says Potier. “Now we have about 22 kids enrolling and close to that many tutors from Trinity giving their time.”

A political science major and former co-chair of the College’s Men of Color Alliance (MOCA), Potier reserves time during AMP sessions for occasional screenings of films and documentaries on topics such as the civil rights and Chicano movements. “Some kids just don’t get the complete social history that they deserve to get or that they need to get to be productive citizens,” he says. Potier recently gave a presentation on AMP to representatives of Sovereign Bank, who were impressed with the program and awarded it a grant of $5,000.

“It’s something that I want to do,” Potier says of AMP. “It’s something that, in my heart, I think needs to be done, and I really love the kids.

“Something that we as students need to foster is a sense of having our own community service projects that are personalized by us, that we’re putting our heart into, and that we run on our own accord,” says Potier. “That’s when students will really start impacting the community.”

A march fit for a King

In celebration of Black History Month, Potier organized the “March for King,” which attracted over 100 students, and members of the faculty and administrative staff, who marched through the campus and in the surrounding neighborhood to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The idea of the march was to get a lot of students together to honor this man and honor his ideal about creating a better nation,” Potier says. “What better way to do that than to go outside of Trinity College and walk in the community to show that we remember his dream, and that we’re trying to continue it.”

Potier’s adviser, Assistant Professor of Political Science Stefanie Chambers, says, “The whole time he’s been at Trinity, he’s been very active. He’s really set the standard for student activism on campus.”

After graduation, Potier says he will either pursue a Ph.D. in political science or go to law school. He hopes to someday bring his passion for civil rights issues and criminal justice into the classroom or the courtroom, professionally.

“Dez can really run with different ideas,” Chambers says. “He’s trying to figure out the causes of inequality and trying to come up with solutions to those problems.”

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