International student becomes stronger leader on Central State University campus  

Central State University junior Darriel Russell lives by the maxim of, “The best way to predict your
future is to create it.” Originally from the Bahamas and majoring in
Accounting and Management Information Systems (MIS), Russell is an Honors
College student working toward eventually becoming a certified public
accountant (CPA).

“I always knew that I wanted to go abroad to school,” Russell said
about her transferring after the peak COVID-19 period from the University
of The Bahamas to Central State during the Spring 2022 semester. “At
first, I came on a partial scholarship, but now that I’m an RA (resident
advisor) and in the Honors College, I’m here on full scholarship.”

Russell has been an RA and part of the Honors College since the Fall 2022
semester. She was also a Spring 2023 initiate of the Beta Xi Chapter of
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and has, over the course of her being a
Marauder, acted as audit intern at such high-profile firms as Deloitte and
Ernst & Young.

When Russell was in high school, she first seriously studied a series of
subjects including biology, accounting, commerce, and Spanish. She quickly
realized, “accounting was the one subject that I just got right away. It
was so easy to me. Even though it was like a different language, I
understood it so quickly.”

Job security is another aspect of the accounting field that made the
profession so alluring for Russell.

“Especially since I came from a single-parent home and being an
international student, it gives me a sense of security,” Russell
continued. “As for management information systems, it comes down to the
fact that I really like to learn new things and had started coding on my
own. It was second nature to me. So, that’s why I picked that major up,

Russell furthermore believes that, after taking part in her internships,
“accounting is the first step into the many different things that I can
do later on.”

As an Honors College student, Russell was accepted into and took part in
the Harvard Division of Continuing Education Leadership Workshop
offered on campus in September. Typically reserved for elite business
professionals, this was the first time Harvard worked with a Historically
Black College or University (HBCU) on facilitating such workshops.

“When I first heard about the workshops, I was a little hesitant out of
nervousness for applying,” Russell admitted. “But then when I thought
about it, I do see myself as a leader on campus. And I knew that going into
this would help me become a better leader. So, why not?”

Russell was proud of herself for being accepted as one of a handful of
applicants ultimately welcomed into the program. She felt it was a
“really good workshop that taught me a lot about thinking before I act
and that my actions have a great impact on others.”

The most important lesson that Russell garnered from the workshop was the
notion that “although we all go through a lot of the same things, every
individual perceives what’s happening in their own, different way. Not
everybody is going to think the same way you do. And, so, being a great
leader is about being aware of other people’s emotions and learning how
to accept that, while not judging people for how they feel during a certain

Despite being relatively new on campus, Russell currently enjoys such
leadership roles as the president of the International Student Organization
and membership chairman and financial secretary for her sorority.

“Going all the way back to high school, I’ve always loved being
involved in extracurricular activities and being very active in my
community,” Russell said. “That kind of molded me into the leader I am
today. Getting to go to Central State was very important to me, and beyond
that, I really knew I wanted to be a student leader.”

While Russell first saw being a leader in high school and college as a
means of leveraging opportunities for financial aid and scholarships, she
said she now feels her drive is more about her seeing her purpose in life
as helping others and the communities where she lives.

“For me, now, it’s about helping others grow the same way that leaders
I’ve had throughout my life have helped me grow,” Russell said.

Through her time at Central State, Russell feels she has been aided on her
path by being seen through the eyes of the Institution as a true
individual. She does not think Central State “sees me as just another
international student or Bahamian. Professors and other faculty here have
really worked with me one-on-one to help me gain my internships and take
advantage of other opportunities like the Harvard Leadership Workshop.”

“I feel that Central State really helps mold you by taking you from where
you are to where you can go to make you better. The faculty wants to know
who you are, what you want, what your goals are, and the ways to make you
as an individual person better. They do whatever they can to help you
achieve that next level.”