Oct. 1, 2021
A basketball court might seem like an unlikely training ground for a high-stakes job in the U.S. Secret Service, but it proved true for David Hinton Jr. He aligns his experience as a student-athlete at Virginia Commonwealth University to his job protecting high-level officials.
“There is no room for complacency or entitlement,” he said. “No day is ever the same, so you have to approach each one with a determined and humble mindset.”
Hinton came to VCU from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and he recalls “just knowing” that VCU was the right place for him as soon as he and his father first visited campus. While pursuing his undergraduate degree in homeland security and emergency preparedness in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Hinton also played for the men’s basketball team from 2008-13. The Rams appeared in four NCAA tournaments and reached the 2011 Final Four.
“I loved being a student-athlete at VCU. It required adopting and maintaining high standards for myself, and I carry those with me to this day,” he said. VCU Athletics recognized Hinton with the Iron Ram Award, which honors elite student-athletes with an exceptional work ethic.
As an undergraduate in the Wilder School, Hinton interned at the Virginia General Assembly and the Virginia office of the attorney general, experiences that piqued his interest in working in the public sector. He earned his master’s degree in sport leadership and considered several lucrative corporate jobs, but ultimately knew he wanted a service-driven career. In 2014, he became a member of the U.S. Secret Service, an ever-changing job that has taken him to six continents; and allows him to witness history firsthand.
On Oct. 22, Hinton will be one of 10 individuals honored by VCU Alumni at its 10 Under 10 awards, which will be held in person (invitation only) and livestreamed virtually. The program celebrates noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who earned their first VCU degree within the past 10 years. This year’s honorees represent eight schools and colleges and six graduation years; eight of the honorees are from a marginalized population; and six are advanced degree holders with two pursuing advanced degrees.
Hinton has stayed connected to his alma mater and prioritizes paying it forward as a way to express his gratitude for what VCU gave him. He remains engaged with the Wilder School and the Center for Sport Leadership, then part of the School of Education, mentoring students and student-athletes and offering guidance about careers in government service and federal law enforcement. He serves as a mentor through the VCU Basketball Development Center and Student-Athlete Support Services, and is a featured speaker for the Rams Leadership Academy.
Hinton is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and has been involved in its voter registration initiative and its Brother’s Keeper program, which supports older, more vulnerable members of the fraternity, including those with disabilities, and their families. Hinton also has been involved with the March of Dimes and as a volunteer youth basketball coach in Alexandria, Virginia. He is passionate about helping young people develop a positive relationship with law enforcement.
He proudly credits his VCU experience for instilling in him a commitment to service and mission that is bigger than himself.
“Our work is a ’no fail’ mission. If we mess up, the world stops,” he said. “The sacrifice for the job is great, but the rewards are even greater.”
Read more about the 10 Under 10 honorees at www.vcualumni.org/Events/10-Under-10/.
A glance at VCU Alumni’s 2021 10 Under 10 honorees:
2013 Doctor of Philosophy, School of Pharmacy
2011 Bachelor of Science, School of Business
2011 Bachelor of Fine Arts, School of the Arts
2017 Master of Public Administration, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
David Hinton Jr.
2012 Bachelor of Arts, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
2013 Master of Education, School of Education
2014 Doctor of Philosophy, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
2015 Bachelor of Science, School of Nursing
2017 Master of Science, College of Health Professions
Daryl Van Tongeren
2011 Doctor of Philosophy, College of Humanities and Sciences
2011 Bachelor of Arts, College of Humanities and Sciences
2013 Master of Education, School of Education
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