15 Most Interesting Seniors 2010: Darryl W. Finkton, Jr.

Wilson Yu

In two weeks, when other students will be recovering from exams and final papers or catching up on episodes of “Glee,” Darryl W. Finkton, Jr. ’10 will be on a plane to Ghana. Once there, he will continue his work on a self-sustaining water supply program that he developed with a friend freshman year.

At Harvard, Finkton and a Quincy House roommate, Sangu J. Delle ’10, have raised over $50,000 and enlisted the aid of about 50 Harvard students and professors to create irrigation systems, boreholes, latrines, and hygiene education programs in communities in Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.

Finkton was recently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and plans to pursue a Master of Science. in global health, and later an M.B.A. while at Oxford. Med school plans are in the works. He is also a two-year member of the varsity basketball team, the co-founder of the College Bound program, a neurobiology concentrator, and a member of The Phoenix S. K.

But his road to Harvard was an unlikely one.

Finkton was raised in a single parent household with three older siblings in Indianapolis. He attended over 15 different schools—more than one school a year, on average—before he entered college.

And at Harvard, Finkton has started a college information program called College Bound, that aims to convince students in the local Roxbury community that college is something that should be on their radar screen.

“We tell them they should think about funding their college education,” Finkton says. “How can they prepare now?” And he has a work ethic that would make any advisor at the Bureau of Study Counsel swoon.

“I have a dry erase board,” he says. “I have my day mapped out for every half hour.” He schedules lunch dates in the dining hall, and when he will go out with friends. The system allows him the flexibility to dedicate time to his non-profit work and other extracurricular commitments.

“He is chill and funny and easy going,” says Finkton’s girlfriend, Alexandra L. L. Almore ’12. “He is also passionate, hard-working, and intelligent. He doesn’t come off as a know-it-all or haughty.”

Finkton’s mother works at the information desk at a hospital, and she said that people have stopped to offer their congratulations. “People from church were telling me they were going to pray for him and pray for his success and how proud they are of him.” She said Darryl went out in the world and did what he needed to do to make a good life for himself. “I can’t get the words out, all I can say is thank you and I am just so proud of him.”

She is making a scrapbook of newspaper clippings documenting her son’s success. “I want to show my grandkids, and say ‘Look, look at everything your dad has accomplished in life.’”