Leadership Profile: Philadelphia Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Student of the year: David Bakali

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Harvey Crudup. Harvey was one of the founding members of the Philadelphia, PA chapter of Concerned Black Men. Harvey passed on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia chapter is the first chapter established prior to the creation of the National Organization of Concerned Black Men, Incorporated. The last time I saw Harvey was at the annual awards luncheon in May 16, 2015. During that ceremony I met David Bakali. David received the chapters highest award, the Student of the Year. David Bakali is my Leadership Profile.

CBM Youth of the Year

Student of the Year David Bakali

David Bakali

When the award was given to David. David was a senior who attended The Shipley School. He played varsity soccer and his team won the 2013 Colonial Cup Classic. David received the Princeton University Book Award in 11th grade and the George Wrangham and Margaret Ralph History Research Prize. David will be attending the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Marketing with additional studies in sociology and psychology.

·         Played soccer and basketball throughout high school

·         Princeton University Book Award, 11th Grade

·         Co-supervisor for a summer camp that serviced children in inner-city Philadelphia

·         Volunteer counselor for Camp St. Thomas at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

·         Full time member of the jazz ensemble at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

·         First generation immigrant to the US (Parents from Malawi)


Age: 18


I love to play and to watch soccer. I also love to play the drums. Moreover, I love to listen to and to produce music. Additionally, I play video games on occasion. I mostly enjoy hanging out with friends.

Career goal:

I would like to work in management for a nonprofit.

What was your biggest mistake as a teenager?

When I played soccer as a underclassman, I did not work at all to achieve my full potential. I thought that I was always a great player. With such a thought in mind, I felt entitled to a place on the Varsity team. For three years straight, I failed to make the team because I felt that I deserved a spot there without having to work hard for it. Such a mentality transferred over to other aspects of my life. On rare occasions, I would not receive the grades that I should have on certain assessments in school. I felt that I could do well without having to work hard for my best grade. It was not until my senior year of high school when I realized that I need to take more initiative. My skill on the field would not come out of thin air. It was up to me to work as hard as I can to earn a spot on the team and to earn playing time. I did all of these things. What I realized from this was that my achievements are much more meaningful when I work hard for them.

What was your biggest mistake in life?

Throughout middle school and as a underclassman in high school, I failed to manage my time well. I let my workloads take over my social life completely. Because of this, I did not spend as much time as I should have with family and friends. This hindered my ability to fully learn about myself, other people, and my environment. As I look back, I still believe that it is important to do well in school. However, grades are not what define you. It is important to go out into the world and spend time with family, friends, and all people to learn about our collective everyday lives. Additionally, we learn how to improve ourselves to make the most of everything. We become socially aware and we understand ourselves, others, and our environment better. Because I spent so much time in books, I lacked social awareness. I struggled to meet new people and to make new friends. I also failed to surround myself around the right people for me. I didn’t know myself. However, I have become a lot more mature in the past two years. I navigate society a lot better because of how I strive to understand myself, others, and the world at large.

Most challenging part of your life/event:

The most challenging part of my life was 7th grade. At that time in my life, I did not understand life at all. This bothered me, because I had a lot of questions about life that I could not find satisfactory answers to. I was constantly thinking, but I still could not find any direction to go in life. It was a miserable experience.

What would you say to yourself at 16 years old?

At 16 I would say that I need to spend more time with people instead of studying so much. If I am given many opportunities to establish meaningful connections with others, I should make the most of them. That is not possible when I spend all of my time in books. I would grow into a much better person if I made time to spend out in the world.

Did you ever image the impact of your life on others?

In big and small ways, I always imaged the impact of my life on others. I have younger brothers that look up to me. It is always important for me to be there for them, so I can help them become the best people that they can be. Whether through volunteer work, music, or sports, I can help people learn. There’s a lot that I have already learned from others. Therefore, I want to spread my knowledge to help change someone’s life.

When did you realize you had the potential to be a leader?

I realized that I had the potential to be a leader in early elementary school. I excelled in school and I quickly became a role model for my peers. There were high expectations for me to represent myself, my peers, and my family well. I rose above those expectations even in my younger years.

How did your understanding of your potential change you?

My understanding of my potential made me want to keep myself on the right path at all times in my life. I realized that I had to be a role model. Anything I say or do could have a tremendous impact on someone’s life. It was my responsibility to keep myself in a position where I could serve as a reputable source of help for someone else.

What advice would you like to give a young male facing any challenge?

Firstly, I would tell him to keep his head up and keep fighting. I would say this, because his challenge could enable him to grow into a man powerful beyond measure. If he were to back down, he would miss an opportunity to become great. He should stay positive that he can rise above his challenges. Additionally, he should lean on the shoulders of those who are very close to him. These individuals whom he trusts could be very helpful to him. Moreover, he could bring himself closer to these people and establish strong relationships to carry him through life.

Student of the Year David Bakali & his proud father

Student of the Year David Bakali & his proud father

David is now at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on his studies in Social Sciences and Economics. He plans to engage in extracurriculars with music groups and soccer teams. Additionally, he is a student worker for the Africana studies department at UPenn.


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