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Alumni Spotlight: Devine Carama

Alumni Spotlight: Devine Carama

 

Devine Carama wearing hat and purple sweatshirt, seated on a sofa

Devine Carama (formerly known as Richard Spaulding) is a 1999 graduate of Tates Creek High School. He is currently director of ONE Lexington, the mayor’s youth gun violence reduction program. He is also the founder of a youth-focused nonprofit called Believing In Forever Inc., an award-winning hip-hop artist, author, educator, community activist, and motivational speaker.  

Question: What person, class, or experience in high school influenced you the most? 

Answer: Ms. Cantrell inspired me the most as a teacher. She was an English teacher who allowed me to write for the school newspaper. This was the genesis of my love for creative writing, which eventually turned into poetry and hip-hop. Not sure I would have ever pursued a music career had it not been for my experience in Ms. Cantrell’s class. 

Devine Carama, aka Richard Spaulding, in high school

Q: How did your education at Tates Creek help prepare you for life and for your professional journey?

A: The structure and knowledge gained in the classroom setting were beneficial for me in my career in public service, but the experience in the hallways was equally as vital. Tates Creek was a melting pot of students of different cultures and socioeconomic statuses. The balance of my experiences helped me to be a better servant. 

Q: Did you attend college or complete graduate studies? If so, where? 

A: I attended Aquinas Junior College and later BCTC (Bluegrass Community & Technical College). Due to being drafted to play professional baseball and fatherhood, I was unable to complete my degree. 

Q: What is a highlight of your career?

A: As a hip-hop artist, I won a 2021 Emmy Award for a song I produced for a local news promotion. I’m the only hip-hop artist from Kentucky to ever win an Emmy. As director of ONE Lexington, my career highlight has been the decrease in the city’s gun violence numbers from 2022 to 2024. In 2022, Lexington had a record number of homicides, 44. The majority of those were gun-related. In 2023, we saw that number decrease to 24.

Q: What advice would you give students interested in your career field?

A: Focus on people. Not numbers, not salary, not political expediency, but people. 

Q: What is an important life lesson to share with current students and future graduates? 

A: Not only live in the moment but think about their legacy. A person’s legacy isn’t about what they collect while they are here, but what they leave behind once they are gone.