Whether being recognized for her work with Durham’s urban youth or raising awareness and working to eliminate prejudice with the NAACP, Setrina Hunter is truly a strong brick in the foundation of Downtown and NorthEast Central Durham.
After majoring in biology at N.C. Central University, she began a career as a clinical researcher working at several companies before returning to NCCU for her master’s in biology and securing a position at Glaxo-Smith Kline in the Research Triangle Park in 1981.
While there, she became involved with the GSK Foundation’s Women in Science Scholars program in 1993. Through this program, she became a mentor and has since mentored countless young women pursuing careers in science or just working their way through life’s challenges.
Although her mentoring originally started with women in science, her involvement with the NAACP of Durham broadened her circle and broadened her mentoring relationships. She served in many leadership positions including Health Committee Chair and Branch Treasurer.
“Other than being the financial stability for them, my mission was to bring in the younger crowd, mainly in the African American demographic, so they could learn about the organization as well as learn and see something new,” says Hunter.
During her years of working with the NAACP she noticed the help and outreach they had on the NorthEast Central part of Durham as well as the Triangle.
“There is a legal redress committee and a labor committee who likes to help out the Durham committee especially with the areas this newspaper focuses on. The labor committee helps out a lot because there are a decent amount of people who feel like they are being treated unfairly, so we kind of help be the voice for those people. The NAACP is really about awareness,” says Hunter.
One of the big issues they tackled as part of the Legal Redress Committee was the relationship between the police and the public in NECD. There was a lot of mistrust and they helped with relationship building that became a model for a nationwide initiative.
It was clear from a young age, that Hunter showed leadership potential. She grew up in High Point where she attended Christ the King Catholic School.
“From 2nd to 5th grade I attended Catholic school, and being there everyday made me want to be a nun,” said Hunter. “It was something about the charge that they took and the confidence they had.”
As she got older she attended Ragsdale High School in Jamestown. She did work with Girl Scouts and worked with her aunt on different black history projects. From then on her knowledge and love for black history began to flourish.
In her brick house in Durham, her love for NCCU is clear. “My uncle was an Eagle, my aunt was an Eagle and if you got Eagles in your family, guess what? You’re going to NCCU,” she says.
Her college years consisted of mainly studying with 21-credit-hour course load some semesters and doing PR work for the campus as an ambassador for the university.
“Doing these things exposed me to different loves that I have outside of science,” Hunter said.
Her days now include mentoring with Durham’s youth. She works alongside NCCU, and is also known through either formal or informal encounters. “I still do mentoring with NCCU and youth in the Durham community” says Hunter.
Her main focus now is black youth, especially black women.
“For my black children, they get so left behind because they may not know who to ask or where to go, so I made it my mission in life to make sure they stay on top of things so they can come out on top and have the proper information they need to take advantage of any opportunities that are out there,” she says.
“I’ve seen the work she has done for the community as well as the work she does with the youth,” said Sandra Knowles, a long time friend. “She even helped me get into where I’m living, so she is really a blessing to a lot of people’s lives.”
As the years go on she plans to continue working with Durham’s youth and supplying them with useful skills and endless support.
“My aunt always use to tell me the sky is never the limit. Don’t let anyone or anything bound you from anything in this world because anything is possible.”