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Triple-D Connection: Dallas Trio To Call HT Home


Incoming freshmen Desmond Beaser (left), Devin Pineda (standing), and Donell Tyler (right) with HT International Alumni Association President and Trustee Matthew Morris (center, seated).

The right circle of people can lead to life-changing and life-altering decisions. Friends of the same mindset become inspirations to each other, motivations to strive for more. Sometimes, the impact of decisions can lead to unimaginable paths that can cause generational shifts.

Devin Pineda, Donell Tyler, and Desmond Beaser are among a group of incoming freshmen at Huston-Tillotson University who have been that to each other and more.

Devin and Donell have been friends since the fifth grade. Desmond joined the trio in seventh grade. Devin’s family moved to Dallas from San Antonio in search of a better life. Donell’s family moved to Dallas in the wake of post-Katrina New Orleans.

The trio became inseparable friends, graduating together from Lake Highlands High earlier this year. The group, who call themselves ‘Triple D’ as each of their first names begin with D, will now look to graduate together in 2025 with degrees from Huston-Tillotson University.

Desmond and Devin were selected for HT’s African American Male Teacher Initiative sponsored by Apple, continuing the University’s commitment to producing 100 Black male teachers. Donell will pursue a degree in criminal justice.

Last week, the group visited campus and toured their new home with HT Alumni Association President and University Trustee Matthew Morris, whose experience as an undergraduate helped guide the students to HT. And while having visited other HBCU campuses previously, they all said Huston-Tillotson felt like home after one visit to the beautiful East Austin campus.

“In life, you can get a generalization of a lot of things, but it’s way different when you experience it,” Pineda said. “I literally did not expect it to just feel like this; the hospitality amazed me, feeling like I’m back at home. Everybody knows each other, and everyone’s so kind. It’s my people – that’s the big thing. My brothers, my sisters. It feels like cousins and relatives.”

Beaser felt the #fRAMily bond of the campus almost immediately.

“Everyone’s strong on connections,” Beaser said. “‘This person in that building can get this for you. That person is going to take care of you.’ Everyone is connecting us without us having to do it ourselves. Everyone is making sure we feel comfortable. We know where to find this certain person for this; we know where to go for that. Also, making sure we know about the campus and the university, the meanings of sororities and fraternities, and the names of buildings and the people on them. I feel overwhelmed with happiness.”

Beyond the financial challenges associated with attending college, the belief that one can attend college is a different hurdle all its own. Both Beaser and Pineda were candid about their fears of becoming a statistic before receiving word they will be two of only 15 Apple Pre-Ed Scholars for the upcoming year.

“It was a period of time, especially in my freshman year, where I genuinely didn’t think I was going to college, and even in my sophomore year saying I won’t make it, I will just fall into being a statistic,” Beaser. “My junior year reaffirmed me to get back on track like that’s the wrong thing to think…Getting acceptance letters started to boost my morale. Then getting a schol-ar-ship (emphasizing each syllable) – that day, something changed. I got accepted; that was the easy part, but I got accepted with a scholarship. Not just any scholarship, but a high-end scholarship. That’s what changed it for me.”

Similarly for Pineda, receiving the scholarship erased self-doubt while fueling the fire for the future.

“It took applying for the scholarship and receiving it for the reality of ‘This is going to happen,’” Pineda said. “The next four years, I’m chasing something now. The scholarship is going to add to my ambition. I don’t have to worry about this and that. The reward of that scholarship changed my mindset completely. I doubted myself a lot, but that opportunity completely changed that and put me in a whole different direction.”

Jones selected a different route, opting for the military. However, a previous health condition complicated the plans and fostered a shift in his mindset. For the first time, Jones thought that he could go to college, motivated by his brothers .

“I looked at them (Devin and Desmond) and said, ‘Why don’t I try to go to school with them?’” Jones said. “After that, I applied for school…It was a lot. The whole time they were applying for the scholarship, I just wanted to see them do it. They were telling me how hard it is to get a scholarship and how many people had applied. When they got it, I was surprised, but it inspired me. These are the guys I hang out with, and they got full scholarships for nothing athletic-related but academic scholarships. It was inspirational.”

From doing almost everything together – playing sports, working the same job, graduating high school – the trio will now enter their subsequent phases of life together at HT, joining the #GeniusGeneration.

“From middle school to high school, people go to different schools and build different lives,” Beaser said. “When you go to college, usually it’s just you split from everyone else. However, it’s us three still together about to go to college for the next four years. That’s a surreal feeling.”