Devaun Longley: A picture-perfect story

April 8, 2024 Andy Furman
Devaun Longley (15) scrambles for the ball in a game against Purchase.
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His volleyball team has but one win in 18 tries this season.

A bigger loss may have been if Devaun Longley wasn’t a member of the volleyball team at all.

And perhaps the biggest loss would have been if Devaun Longley never attended Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.

“I didn’t want college,” he told the Eagle last week. “I was working a steady job at the time, but my high school counselor (Brooks) suggested I reach out.” He was designing posters, logos, murals and social media content for clubs, advocacy campaigns and extracurricular activities. Devaun Longley was content

“I sent applications to some 16 colleges,” he said, “and was accepted at 13.”

He chose Pratt.

Not for volleyball — although he admitted he was an advocate for volleyball while a student at the Bronx Academy of Letters. In fact, he played baseball in high school.

“I thought Pratt had a baseball team after I was accepted,” he said. “They once did, not now — so I went for volleyball, made the team and have been a three-year starter.”

Devaun Longley has a talent and has expanded it at Pratt Institute.

“My mom was a painter and a graphic designer,” he said. “It was her hobby.”

And when son found out about mom’s hobby, well, “I wanted to live out this life for her.”

He says he has taken his training seriously — probably more than his volleyball. He claims to be a self-taught artist.

In fact, it was his mom who noticed his doodling at a young age.

Longley says he has developed new skills in Pratt’s Communications Design program. “I thought it would be mainly drawing, but I have learned some new concepts.

“I’ve learned how to express myself through animation, graphic design, typography, printmaking, website design,” he says. “I have the ability and understanding to perhaps work in any field I choose.”

After graduation — and volleyball — he plans to create his own material, and perhaps do some studio work within a group, he says.

His proudest moment thus far must be his summer work as a graphic designer and researcher with the New York City Department of Records and Information Services.

The mission of the department is to foster civic life by preserving and providing access to the historical and contemporary records of New York City government, to ensure that city records are properly maintained following professional archival and recorded management practices and to make materials available to diverse communities both online and in person.

The past three summers, Longley helped build “Harlem Conditions”, a website that explores the findings of New York’s “The Report on Conditions in Harlem” from 1936.

Longley created illustrations that bring this report to life – demonstrating shocking parallels from then and today.

The report concentrates on March 19, 1935, when several thousands of Harlem’s citizens — after five years of the Great Depression, which had made them feel more keenly than ever the injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggression of the police, and racial segregation — engaged in a riot against those intolerable conditions.

“I easily related those conditions back then to George Floyds’s situation,” Longley said. “In 2018, Pauline Toole, the executive director of the department, gave me the opportunity to actually express myself. And I have been with the “Harlem Conditions” project the last three summers.”

He says it’s actually the real reason he loves drawing.

“It allows me to enter different fields and express what’s happening in the world,” he said. “And I love the directing role because it allows me to see into everything and have a say into different areas.”

Sometimes it takes just one person to change a person’s life — and set him on a wonderful career.

Devaun Longley’s high school counselor gave him a nudge that pushed him to college. “I got accepted into the HEOP program at Pratt, and my whole perspective of college changed once I got here,” he said. “The environment, the people, the experiences — literally everything about it just shifted.”

Well said from a volleyball middle blocker who has chronic knee pain.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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