Quadrangle Spring 2023


D awn Riley Duval arrived on the into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame. But her story began far away from Champaign-Urbana. Riley Duval (BA, ’96, English), an eight-time All- American and seven-time Big Ten champion who competed in the 100 meter hurdles, triple jump, and relays, is a fifth-generation Coloradoan, born and raised in the Park Hill neighborhood of northeast Denver. The historically Black neighborhood has birthed University of Illinois campus in 1992, ready to begin a track career that, 30 years later, would lead to her induction several collegiate and professional athletic stars, such as track standouts Caryl Smith Gilbert and Yolanda Johnson, NBA player and coach Chauncey Billups, and NFL tight end Daniel Graham. It was here that Riley Duval first developed her love for track and her drive to help change the world for the better. “I’ve always had this confidence, a pride in my community and culture, a belief in myself, and a belief that individuals can effect change,” Riley Duval said. “These beliefs were cultivated in Denver and in Park Hill community more specifically. I carried that on to the University of Illinois and have carried that confidence and pride and faith and strength throughout my life.” Despite humble beginnings, Riley Duval said she’s always seen a wide range of what is possible. Her grandfather, born and raised in Colorado, was a U.S. Army veteran who fought in the Korean War and then worked in tech in Silicon Valley. Riley Duval’s father was a special- ed teacher at a predominantly Black high school in Denver and her mother a social worker for many years before she became a professor at the University of Denver. Dawn Riley Duval channels her athletic prowess into a career— and comes full circle

22 / Spring 2023

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