Beat of his own drum


Dee Walker is UK’s first African-American drum major. He will graduate in May with a degree in choral music education. 

For the month of February the Kernel will be telling the story of 29 notable African American Alumni. These features are in conjunction with the UK Alumni Association project “They Came Before: The Legacy of African-American Pioneers and Trailblazers at the University of Kentucky.”

Walking into Commonwealth stadium on Oct. 4, 2014 was an electric experience for Demetrius Walker, UK’s first African-American drum major.

The choral music education senior said the Oct. 4 game against South Carolina was his favorite memory in the Wildcat Marching Band. 

“Marching on the field as (a) drum major is an experience I will never forget,” Walker wrote in an email to the Kentucky Kernel. “You feel so many emotions. It’s really hard to explain — it’s electric.”

Walker applied for the position of drum major, a process including an interview and a live audition at UK’s spring game. Walker said the spring game was his favorite part of the process. 

“I’ve loved being a part of the (band) and all the opportunities it has given me,” Walker wrote.

Walker joined the Wildcat Marching Band as a freshman, but he took some time off to focus on his career. 

After graduation, Walker plans to pursue a career in teaching as a high school choral director. His teachers at UK, especially Jeff Johnson and Lori Hetzel, inspired him to follow his love of music.

“I love my major and the College of Education,” Walker wrote. “Leaving here in May, I feel very prepared because of the work that Dr. Hetzel has done with the Choral Music Education program.”

Walker said his time at UK has been an awesome but challenging experience. 

“I’m sad to see it end,” Walker wrote of his graduation in May. “UK has made me realize how blessed we all are to be at such an awesome and supporting school.”

By Lexington Souers

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