Osiris Russell-Delano

Year of Graduation: 
Osiris Russell-Delano at the microphone.

"You realize ... at Exeter that not everything’s going to be easy ... but there are people there to support you.”

At a swivel chair in his Wentworth Hall dorm room, Osiris Russell-Delano ’21 lays down his ideas with a smooth Wexford retractable pen. “Writing is one of my favorite things,” he says. “Ms. Carbonell has been a big adviser to me. Obviously, she's an English teacher, but I really found my voice in terms of writing in her classroom.”

Osiris’ words link together for school assignments, verses of poetry and musical lyrics. “I have a journal and I also have a microphone in my room,” he says.  “I make music, I rap and I release my own songs, and that’s a pretty big part of my life.”

Osiris was introduced to the Exeter music scene on revisit day by his Experience Exeter tour guides, who later became his dormmates. “They would be in the music studio that we have on campus and I would go to the studio with them,” he says. “And yeah, I kind of grew a knack for it. I released my first song in my ninth-grade year and I've just kind of been working on it ever since.”

That original single was called “Stay Long.” “I was kind of just experimenting a bit, I was rapping, I guess, just about my life,” he says. Since then, Osiris has upped his game. “It was very low-quality compared to how far I’ve come,” he says. “Now I do almost all my music with my friend Hojun Choi ’21, who’s in Ewald. He’s crazy talented at producing and composing music, so we do all of our stuff together.”

Expanding his voice

Osiris gets behind the mic for more than making music. Last summer, the native New Yorker (who proudly states he has lived in four of the five boroughs) performed original spoken-word poetry with Urban Word NYC, a youth literary arts program. He also took to Exeter’s Assembly Hall stage during Martin Luther King Jr. Day the past two years for UnSilenced, an annual showcase of student song, rap, film, spoken word and poetry.

Plus, he is quite vocal in Mock Trial Club. “I tried out as a lawyer and they were like, ‘Can you come back and try out as a witness because we really like how you talk.” Osiris made the Mock Trial A team his prep year and went to nationals. They qualified again this year.

Learning to listen

Speaking up has never been a problem for Osiris. “When I was a little, I would always be the kid in the class that would shout out the answer, be kind of disruptive without raising my hand,” he says. “I think my biggest adjustment to Harkness was learning how to listen. And the biggest gain you get from Harkness as well is really learning how to listen.”

Osiris flexed these skills this year as a student listener. “That’s a pretty big thing for me, being in the dorm, going to those meetings and learning how to facilitate, learning how to hear people better,” he says. “I think most Exeter students would agree that the dorm is the biggest breeding ground for friendships, because right off the bat, the people that live next door to you are going to come in your room and hang out with you.”

Osiris shared a dorm with two of his water polo captains his prep year, who supported him in the pool and in life. “Being on a team with guys that are 18 and I was 13, it was definitely a step up, but it was a good experience,” he says. At the end of this season, Osiris was voted as one of next year’s co-captains. “It’s a big deal to be in a position where I can give back and also mentor some younger kids that will be in the same shoes that I was in a couple of years ago.”

Finding community

Finding your people is key, says Osiris. “You realize over your time at Exeter that not everything’s going to be easy and it’s not supposed to be easy,” he says, “but there are people there to support you.”

Osiris has found his community in the dorm, the production studio, the swimming pool and the affinity groups he has joined. “My sense of belonging was forged through the affinity groups,” he says. He is a member of Black Students of Excellence, the Afro-Latino Exonian Society, and the Young Brothers Society for Black and Latino males. “I go to YBS pretty much every week and it really does feel like a brotherhood,” he says. “The best meetings in affinity groups are the ones that have no agenda or we’re not breaking down some huge worldview topics and are more just like, ‘Oh, how are you guys doing? You want to play some sort of silly game?’”

During 2020’s virtual spring term, Osiris and his Hip Hop Production Club co-head and friend Hojun are helping fellow Exonians feel connected.

“We’re seeing if we can get different musicians that might not have worked together before to make some music online and collaborate and keep that spirit of music, and maybe we’ll feel less isolated,” he says. “Since people are quarantined, we’re also releasing a song a week, to keep things lively and get people engaged.”

It seems their popular #NoService posts on Instagram are working. At last count, more than 1,000 people viewed their posts and the positive comments are adding up.