DISTINCTION - Issue 1, Fall 2014

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PASSION POSSIBILITIES The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows 1

DISTINCTION Distinction is brought to you by the communications team at Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows (OUSF).

LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR Welcome to our first issue

of Distinction: The Scholars Magazine. We hope that you will enjoy reading about the many OUSF scholar alumni who are doing incredible things around the world. Among this scholarly fraternity, you’ll read about a former U.S. Cabinet Secretary, a music specialist for the Library of Congress, and the head writer for Diane Sawyer, to name a few. We’ll also introduce you to current scholars: students who are creating ways to improve cancer diagnosis, starting businesses, and fighting against a caste system that creates obstacles to education. This issue salutes our oldest merit scholarship program by highlighting four of the program’s alumni, spanning four decades. The Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarship Program has supported Duke students 2


for more than 60 years. All of our nine scholarship programs are modeled, in some fashion, after the A.B. Scholarship, including the Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship. The “Reggie” program is Duke’s first merit scholarship targeted specifically for scholars of African and AfricanAmerican descent. Two highly accomplished Reggie Scholars are profiled in the magazine. In total, these pages highlight twelve alumni and nine scholars, sprinkled with segments like Favorite Books and Best Mistakes Ever Made. We hope the articles inspire you and strengthen your connections to Duke and the scholar community. Email us, at melody.hunter.pillion@duke. edu, and let us know what you think of the magazine. Cheers, Melissa Malouf

Melissa Malouf

Director Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows

Issue 1, Fall 2014 EDITORIAL TEAM: Editor-in-Chief: Melody Hunter-Pillion Editors & Lead Designers: Michael Culbreth & Caroline Holcomb

DISTINCTION is brought to you

by the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows (OUSF), at Duke University, which serves as a hub for undergraduate merit scholars, home to post-graduate award support, and a haven for outrageous ambitions.

contents PASSION alumni highlights From a network newsroom, to the White House and the Library of Congress, Duke’s OUSF alumni share their career experiences and the PASSION that propels them forward.


Alumni Endowed Scholarship Angier B. Duke Scholarship Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship Karsh International Scholarship

The MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholarship Robertson Scholars Leadership Program

Trinity Scholarship University Scholars Program

THE OUSF STAFF: Dr. Melissa Malouf, Director

Melody Hunter-Pillion, Associate Director, Communications

Babs Wise,

Associate Director

Jenny Wood Crowley,

Associate Director, AB & BN Duke Scholarships

Audrey Adu-Appiah,

Communications Assistant

Daniel Baroff,

Staff Specialist

Julia Coleman,

Staff Specialist

POSSIBILITIES mistakes, advice, books Good mistakes, great advice from mentors and thoughtprovoking books inspire alumni and current OUSF Scholars with POSSIBILITIES. Our alumni tell us about their favorite books, advice and mistakes that made all the difference.

POTENTIAL scholar spotlights

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Scholars at Duke University are active intellectuals. Distinction introduces you to young students who are improving cancer diagnosis, fighting for voting rights, recycling e-waste, educating children, creating resistance music and more. Learn how scholars are realizing their talents and reaching toward their full POTENTIAL.

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Writing the News Lisa Ferri 1994 - Angier B. Duke Scholar Lisa Ferri sat just off set while the nation’s last female bigthree-network anchor, Diane Sawyer, delivered her final evening newscast, in August. As head writer and coordinating producer of World News with Diane Sawyer, Ferri found it to be a definitive newscast. The A.B. Duke alumna’s reaction to the change? Excitement. In the weeks after Sawyer’s announcement, Ferri promised OUSF she would reveal all. The revelation – Ferri will stay on with the broadcast, now called World News Tonight with David Muir. “I’m working as David’s head writer and coordinating producer,” says Ferri. “We have been doing great in the ratings. We have pulled into first place in the all important 25-54 age range demographic.” No surprise that Ferri is rolling with the changes and embracing the opportunities they bring. It’s the same attitude the Duke biology major adopted when she unexpectedly fell in love with the television industry during a summer internship with MTV, in New York City. The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


“Sometimes you need that person

on the other side to get you over the fear. They said, ‘You can do it. We’re doing it.’”

“The people who hired me were actually Duke alums,” says Ferri. “They were ten to fifteen years older than me and they took me under their wings. They said, ‘This is how you get into television.’” Bitten by the TV bug, after graduation from Duke in 1994, Ferri would later defer her admission into NYU law school. “I deferred for a year, just following my instincts,” explains Ferri. “I was excited about going to law school, but I had a hunch there was still this little dream that I had and I didn’t know how to explore that. I took that year and met a lot of people who were journalists. They worked at Fortune. They worked at the Times. They worked at Women’s Wear Daily. And they encouraged me. They said, ‘This is something you can do. We’re doing it. There’s no reason why you can’t do it.’ Sometimes you need that person on the other side to get you over the fear.” At first Ferri worked what she calls “a proper job to pay the bills,” while freelance writing for magazines and online sources. She moved to Boston to produce a TV show, but the program 6


went bust. Ferri was anything but discouraged. “I figured I could walk up to ABC and they would hire me,” she chuckles and shakes her head at the memory. “That didn’t happen, but I still had a dream. I just didn’t know how to get there.” She went to graduate school for journalism at Columbia University, where she met and became teaching assistant for Richard Wald, the retired Senior Vice President of Editorial Quality at ABC News and former President of NBC News. “When I graduated, Dick told me to take another serious look at ABC,” says Ferri. “ABC was just starting a weekend edition of GMA. There was a slot open. I got on that show, and then segued onto the weekday show, where Diane was the anchor. She worked with veteran news writers. When you’re new you sort of work all the bad shifts. I was there for a breaking news story one day, and I was thrust upon her because I happened to be there and it went well. That led quickly to me working with Diane Sawyer all of the time.”

Which meant a very early morning routine of arriving at the ABC studios at 3:30 a.m., copy editing scripts, and briefing Sawyer, Charlie Gibson, and Robin Roberts on the show plans. “Planning the show is like flying the space shuttle,” says Ferri. “It’s enormous.” When Sawyer moved from GMA to World News, Ferri moved with her a few months later, sitting just out of sight of the cameras during each broadscast. The journalists covered major news stories together, including presidential campaigns. “We interviewed Obama when he won Iowa. We were there the night he lost New Hampshire and the night he accepted the Democratic nomination for president,” recalls Ferri. “Extraordinary moments. Somebody pinch me, because you have a front row seat on history. It’s such a privilege to be right up there.” Ferri, Sawyer, and their team also covered tragedies. “When the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened, in Newtown, it was on our shift,” says Ferri. “We were live, on-set, until hand-off to another anchor. Then we traveled to Newtown to do live coverage there.”

Ferri would go on to win a 2014 Writers Guild Award for the Sandy Hook coverage. The previous year, she won the same prestigious award for coverage of the Colorado movie theater shootings. Ferri tells OUSF the biggest reward has been working with great people, like Sawyer and Wald. “It was a privilege to be with Diane, especially at a time when she was the only female anchor. She and Dick Wald are incredibly wise, fearless, and unstoppable. I worked for someone who is a living legend.” With Muir, Ferri will work on the biggest stories and interviews of the day for ABC News. She handles the twists and turns in her career much in the same way she handles breaking news – energized and excited for whatever comes next.

CLICK HERE Lisa Ferri takes us behind the scenes at ABC, in this Alumni Highlight video.

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Composing for the Public David Plylar 2001 University Scholars Program

When life seems a bit off-key David Plylar (2001) knows when to change tunes. A composer and pianist who works as a music specialist and concert producer for the Library of Congress, Plylar’s career has hit the right notes, but not without some caprice. “In many ways this is a dream job,” says Plylar, a University Scholars Program alumnus. “I had no idea I was en route to this particular position. When I first arrived at Duke I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to have something to do with music. My entire life I’ve loved music. My parents are musicians. My father was principal trumpet in the Phoenix Symphony when I was growing up. “I was always drawn to piano, but actually started out as a choirboy,



in the Phoenix Boys Choir. And that’s where I really learned the fundamentals of sight singing and an approach to music-making that has served me in good stead. I’ve been a pianist since I was 14, then switched to composition as soon as I could, about the middle of high school. I still self-identify mostly as a composer.” At Duke, Plylar composed his own Program II degree. “It was called Music Composition and the Creative Process. The Program II option allowed me to explore my interest in art history, philosophy and other things as well, in a very structured way with good guidance,” says Plylar. But a note of dissonance set in after graduation.

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“I originally did not know what to do. I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked there for a few months until I was notified, at a very late date, about a special fellowship at the University of Louisville,” says Plylar. “I applied for the fellowship and was very lucky to get it, at the last moment. I moved to Louisville in a matter of six days. I spent a very good two years in Louisville for my masters in Theory and Composition.” Plylar then earned his Ph.D. at the Eastman School of Music and before long took an unexpected detour to South Africa. “South Africa was an unbelievable experience and came about in the strangest of ways,” explains Plylar. “When I graduated with my doctorate I was in the situation in 2008-2009 when there were no jobs. I was certain

academia was my career path, but it wasn’t in the cards. “My future wife was a professional oboist and she was offered a job in the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban, South Africa. They were very open and actually developed a job for me. I started off working as their new music coordinator and then went into artistic coordination for them. I was very pleased to be able to work with South African composers. To me, that sort of outreach was a surrogate for not being in an academic institution. I still had a way to interact with younger and older composers. We were able to provide opportunities through the orchestra for reading sessions and performances of South African works. We were also very much involved with encouraging different types of repertoire to be introduced into their literature.” Two years later Plylar accepted his current role with the Library of Congress. “I’m a music specialist and concert producer for the Library. We have a small team of producers that works to present the Concerts from the Library of Congress series, which has been going on since 1925. We do everything from writing program notes, to booking artists, and selecting repertoire — just a wide variety of things. “What I love about our series is that it’s free to the public and we invite



anybody to come. We love to develop programs that provide greater access to our resources. Our collection itself is vast, with many music manuscripts, papers from famous composers, musicians, dancers and choreographers. It’s really a special place to be as a researcher or a visitor.” Plylar still finds it hard to believe he landed such a coveted position. “I’m still not quite sure,” he shakes his head and laughs. He does look back at the different tunes and beats life offered, and his willingness to listen. “It’s the only way I can account for it. Because my background is so disparate I think all those things made me a little bit more of a viable candidate for the Library of Congress. The best mistake I made was, in the

end, happening to graduate when I did and moving around to places sight unseen. It wasn’t an active mistake, but certainly not planned. It taught me to be a bit more open to opportunities when they presented themselves, even when they were not what I was expecting.”

CLICK HERE Click here to listen to David Plylar’s original music, “Fracutured Colloquy” in this video. Photos by Ian Wagreich.

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Photo by Peter Baiamonte


Danielle Gray 2000 Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar

“I’m leaving the White House in two days.”

Those words were among Danielle Gray’s first, while meeting with Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholars in Perkins Library on a Saturday morning in February 2014. A Reggie alumna and frequent visitor to campus, Gray was winding down her tenure as U.S. Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Barack Obama.



The scholars were excited not only to hear about Gray’s experiences in the White House, and in law school as editor of Harvard Law Review, but also to ask questions about the challenges she faced to achieve so much, at such a young age. Gray, a first generation college student, graduated from Duke in 2000 and joined the White House at 30, eventually taking the post as one of the President’s Senior Advisors. Here are the Reggies’ questions and Gray’s candid answers.


Reggie Scholar Niara Wright 2014:

Right after you graduated from Duke, did you go straight into public administration?


After I graduated, I went to Harvard Law School. After law school I went to a clerkship for a federal judge in Washington, D.C. I also clerked for Justice Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. The year between those two clerkships, in 2004, was a big presidential election year. Also, then-State Senator Obama was running for election in Illinois, for U.S. Senate. We had many law professors in common. I harassed basically every professor I knew from law school to help me make a connection and I went to work for Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign. What does it mean to work on a senate campaign? It means you do no get paid. You work very, very long hours. And it’s not at all glamorous. It’s researching to sit down with a labor union or other groups who want to know why they should endorse you. It’s everything from that to walking down the streets of Chicago with a bullhorn, saying, “Vote Obama.” I was lucky enough to be part of a campaign that quickly became not a very typical campaign. His opponent dropped out. He gave that famous speech in 2004 at the Democratic Convention. He became sort of a superstar. We were forced to look ahead and I began looking at policy issues.

New York and a few years later Obama ran for President. I went to work for his presidential campaign as his deputy policy director, writing white papers for his policy positions and helping him prepare for debates. I camped out in Iowa and knocked on doors, the whole gamut.


Reggie Scholar Ernie Britt 2016:

Day-to-day what does your job entail? What do you do?


I’ve had a few different roles in the last five years. I started out as lawyer in the office of the White House Counsel. I helped different White House staff think about legal issues that came up about policy. I spent a lot of time on the Affordable Care Act. I also helped the President pick people for the bench, judges and Supreme Court nominees. My next job, I moved to the Justice Department, litigating cases for a short time, before being pulled back to the White House as deputy director of the National Economic Council, focusing on economic policies: labor, tax credits, budget policy, and housing policy. That brought me to my most recent job. I was promoted in January of last year to my current job, of which I have literally 48 more hours. I am the President’s Cabinet Secretary. I’m a liaison between the President and his cabinet. Day-to-day that can involve helping agencies that are all trying to coordinate around presidential priorities, like immigration reform or healthcare reform.

After that experience I went back to my clerkship. I practiced law for a firm in

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Reggie Scholar Jamie McGhee 2016:

What influenced your decision to take time off from the administration?


Tired. (laughter from scholars and Gray). The hours are long, but when people say these jobs are exhausting, it’s not the hours. It’s the importance of the things you work on. No one who is responsible in these positions ever views himself or herself as going home for the day. You’re doing conference calls late at night. If you look at most people’s bios who work in White House administrations, they tend to be there for two years or so. This fiveyear thing I’ve been on is a little bit long. If you add in the campaign, that’s about seven years. For me the decision to move on was a difficult one because I’ve been very fortunate. I very much believe in this President. And it was a tough call, because you leave with the awareness that the rest of your life might just be down hill. When you’re 35 that’s a lot to think about. It was hard walking away from the White House position because it’s been so much fun, but I think someone should be able to do my job with the kind of energy that I had a few years ago. That’s a good thing and a healthy thing. 14



Reggie Scholar Zanele Munyikwa 2015:

What have been some challenges throughout your career? Have there been some moments when you were unsure you were on the right track in terms of your trajectory?


One challenge has been being a young woman, and a young woman of color. I’m often the youngest person in the room. I’m often the only woman in the room. I’m often the only person of color in the room. That’s a common occurrence in my life. You have to think about how not to let doubts about your age or experience get into your head, and you have to think, “I’m in this chair for a reason. I’m capable of doing this.” The other challenge is just the balance in your life. I was packing up my office the other day and I was looking at these pictures that I have framed of my niece and she doesn’t look like that anymore. She’s a seven-year-old, not a one-yearold. Time has sort of just gone by. You’re working so hard and the other things you care about — keeping up with friends, relationships, caring for aging parents — all become real sacrifices that you make a lot in these kinds of jobs.


Reggie Scholar Ernie Britt 2016:

your destiny.

This is not a super serious question, but would you consider the environment in the White House more like The West Wing, or Scandal, or House of Cards?


Definitely more like The West Wing. I should be offended that you invoked Scandal. (laughter) One of the things I’m most excited about with time off is the ability to watch House of Cards. I’ve heard it’s amazing and I’ve not had time to watch it. I love Scandal, but that show is more soap opera than the White House is. The reason I think The West Wing is very realistic is a number of people who worked in the Clinton administration were actually consultants to Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing. When I was in the National Economic Council, my boss Gene Sperling, the President’s top economic advisor, was a consultant on The West Wing.


I don’t know if that click ever comes. There’s a part of me that thinks I should go be a lawyer. There’s a part of me that thinks I should go start a non-profit. There’s a part of me that thinks I should go work at a company. I live with this all of the time. I can’t figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I just try to think of what is the most interesting thing I can be doing. So much of this is trial and error. You have to figure out what feels right to you, what feels true to you. I think sometimes people pick a major or do things just because there’s a herd going there. I would not have the career I have right now if I didn’t go “I’m going to go work for this guy named Barack Hussein Obama, who thinks he should be a United States Senator.” If I had been on the beaten path, I would have missed it.

Since February, Gray has returned to her law firm, O’Melveny & Myers. She’s also lecturer of law at Harvard — not likely this super achiever’s last stop. Keep in mind; her Harvard classmates voted her most Reggie Scholar Zanele likely to become a Supreme Court Justice. White House insiders predict Gray will be Munyikwa 2015: How did you know your career on the short list for cabinet level jobs for Democratic presidents for the next four was what you were meant to decades. Inspired Reggie scholars will do? I’m a computer science keep watch, after the time Gray spent with major, but I don’t know if there’s this them at Duke.


click where you know you’re following

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Clearing the Air Carina Barnett-Loro 2009 Benjamin N. Duke Scholar “I’m one of those weird people who has always known what I wanted to do.” What Benjamin Newton Duke Scholar alumna Carina Barnett-Loro calls “weird,” some people would consider enviably driven, with a clear focus on the future. “In fifth grade I made a photo album with my mom and my goal was to be an environmental scientist,” says Barnett-Loro. The environment remains BarnettLoro’s focus, in her position with the Union for Concerned Scientists, in Washington, D.C. As outreach coordinator for the organization’s Climate Impacts Strategy, the Durham native, who majored in environmental science and policy with a certificate in Latin American studies, admits the work is an uphill climb.



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“We know that climate change is happening. It’s a serious threat.”

“Unfortunately, for a variety of political reasons, federal climate and clean energy legislation unraveled and never passed both Houses of Congress, during 20092010,” says Barnett-Loro. “So, as a community we’ve had to come together and think, ‘What’s next?’ We know that climate change is happening. It’s a serious threat.” The environmental challenge comes in a two-part question, according to BarnettLoro, a nature-lover and world-traveler. “How do we both move toward limiting our emissions, mitigating the carbon that’s already in the atmosphere? And then also, how do we prepare our communities to be more resilient to the change that we know is coming? The Climate Impacts Strategy looks at both of those things. We have to adapt our communities to the climate change that’s 18


already locked in. We know there’s going to be sea level rise that we can’t reverse. We know there’s going to be warming that effects fire and drought patterns in the West that we can’t reverse.” Barnett-Loro works in four states: New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and Virginia. She witnesses a variety of climate extremes. “In the interior West we’re thinking about fire and drought,” explains Barnett-Loro. “In some places they’re not getting enough water. In some places they’re getting too much water. In Colorado, prolonged drought leaves the soil so dry that it cannot absorb moisture when the Fall rains come. Fires burn trees that also would have helped to prevent erosion, resulting in damaging floods like the one we saw in Boulder last year.”

With the seemingly insurmountable challenges, bridging the partisan divide will be key to environmental success. Barnett-Loro says she learned how to identify and organize effective people from across backgrounds during her previous jobs, beginning in college with the B.N. Duke Carolina Summer of Service.

Barnett-Loro’s first job out of college was a one-year environmental organization fellowship with Green Corps. Then she worked for two years as the chapter organizer for the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club. Now with the Union of Concerned Scientists, she remains on track to doing the kind of work she always knew she would.

“It was a really incredible opportunity,” says Barnett-Loro. “The summer after my freshman year, I was in Greenville, North Carolina. One of my Summer of Service non-profit placements was with the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, which advocates for clean air and water in eastern North Carolina. That was actually the first time I had ever worked for an environmental non-profit.”

“I found a list when I was cleaning out some boxes in my Mom’s house a year or two ago,” says Barnett-Loro. “I wanted to be an environmental lobbyist when I was 13. A lot of my desire to work on environmental issues stems from a deep connection to the environment and a love for being outside. I really appreciate how beautiful and complex the world is.”

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Driving the Future Andrew Chatham 2002 - Angier B. Duke Scholar A team leader for Google’s Self-Driving Car project, Andrew Chatham was not exactly steering his career toward Silicon Valley as he prepared to graduate from Duke in 2002. The Angier B. Duke scholar had other plans. “At the time, I was applying to grad school in computer science, because you’ve been in college and all of your role models are professors,” says Chatham, who double majored in computer science and economics, with a minor in Japanese. “I didn’t get into the grad schools I was hoping to get into. On a whim, I had applied to a job at Google, because someone had mentioned Noam Shazeer, another A.B. Duke alumnus who was at Google and created Google Spelling. I knew he was a smart guy. So, I applied to Google. In retrospect, it was a very good choice to have made. I joined Google three weeks after my graduation from Duke.” 20


Twelve years and three cities later (New York, Tokyo, and Mountain View, California), the Jackson, Mississippi native points to a list of challenging and exciting Google innovations he’s had a hand in shaping. His teams substantially enlarged the search engine crawl to tens of billions of web pages, and increased Google’s speed in adding a web page from 24 hours to a mere 30 seconds. But Chatham was dreaming of something bigger. “I had told myself, ‘I have been at Google a long time and now I want to work on something even more important’,” Chatham recalls. “As far as I could tell the most important thing I was qualified to work on was self-driving cars. Then, I found out about three months after my interest got jazzed up that Google was already working on them.

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Chatham talks about lessons that have made him a better leader. “It was very secretive even within Google at the time, but I managed to get myself on the project. For the first two years I worked on the project from New York. I couldn’t even tell anyone what I was working on. After two years of that I ended up coming out to California and I’ve been here for the last three years. “I currently lead the team working on the software running in Google’s data centers. A lot of that is building the maps that our cars use, but also keeping the data that we collect and making sense of it so that we can improve the software and make the cars safer.” Important work that requires a team approach. Chatham credits one of his Duke mentors with providing the skills he uses to be a successful coder and team leader at Google.

“Professor Owen Astrachan, in the Computer Science Department, taught the software engineering classes,” says Chatham. “A lot of the value that came out of those classes was not just the particular details of learning how to use some piece of code, but also learning how to work as a team. I really value the experience that Professor Astrachan gave us, forcing us to work together in teams, because it turns out that’s what you do for the rest of your life.” Chatham hopes his work will eventually save and improve lives. “It’s a huge societal problem that so many people die in automobile accidents,” says Chatham. “As cool as the stuff is that we’ve made, as many articles as might be written about it, we have not saved any lives yet, because the technology is still in the research and development phase. I really do want to see this get into people’s hands and actually have an impact on people’s lives. I would like to stick around until we make that happen.” Photos by Elisabeth Fall.

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A Journey Forward From My Village to Medical School

Joshua Foromera 2013 – Karsh International Scholar Written by Joshua Foromera How it started

It was back when I was a little kid in the Chivi rural district in Zimbabwe. I used to walk a long distance with my grandmother to go to the nearest clinic. It was frustrating when we got there only to find that the physician would not be coming. My grandmother had back pain, joint pain, failing sight and a plethora of other ailments. Watching her struggling to walk back to the village without medication was always heartbreaking for me. So, I decided that I would be her doctor some day. I actually started to believe myself. Unfortunately, my poor grandmother died in 2005 before I could be of any help to her, but my experiences with her keep me going to this very day.


To most of my classmates, my path to medical school was fairly straightforward, but I do not see it that way. When I graduated high school in Zimbabwe, I went to the University of Zimbabwe’s college of health sciences for almost a year before financial and political problems forced me to drop out. When I came to the United States I was apprehensive about medical school and I never came out as a premed during my undergrad days. Dean Sue Wasiolek encouraged me to pursue what I wanted. I confided with her that I was worried



about not getting accepted, because I am an international student. For the longest time, I debated between graduate school and medical school, until I registered for the MCAT during my junior year. Once I took the exam, I focused solely on medical school applications. I ended up getting into a few great schools. I decided to attend Harvard and began my studies in the Fall of 2013.

My work

This summer I worked on a clinical research project titled “C-Reactive Protein for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Active Pulmonary Tuberculosis in HIV-infected

Adults in South Africa.” I combed through electronic and paper records of hundreds of TB/HIV patients who were enrolled in various studies at King Edwards (VII) Hospital in Durban, South Africa since 2009. The aim of this project is to expedite and reduce the cost of TB diagnosis. This project can provide a unique way of testing TB that will hopefully be more reliable, even among HIV patients. As part of my summer, I was able to spend time with HIV/TB patients and I learned a lot about HIV/TB and infectious diseases management. The highlight of each week was the time I spent in the clinic and wards.

Dr. Haynes was my thesis advisor and I remember very well the day when he returned my first draft completely red, but with some of the greatest comments I have ever had from my teachers.

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” 25

“Go-to” people

Two people come to mind as great mentors: Dr. David Edwards (‘07) and Dr. Bart Haynes, MD (Director, Human Vaccine Institute, Duke University School of Medicine). Dr. Edwards is my go-to person with any question about life, from the pettiest thing to the scariest decision. Dr. Haynes is an amazing scientist and he is my go-to person with academic questions and when I need scientific explanations regarding things that fascinate me, especially HIV research. Dr. Haynes was my thesis advisor and I remember very well the day when he returned my first draft completely red, but with some of the greatest comments I have ever had from my teachers. I keep in touch with my mentors constantly and, since they are both physicians, they are always willing to give me advice on what to do next in my career.

Harvard life

Back at Harvard, last year I spent most of my time in class, but I also try to go out and mentor international college students. This year has started pretty quickly and I am studying for the board exams. I am still finalizing my schedule to see when I can find time to go out into the community.



No matter where I am, I reach out to my home village. I started a small scholarship project for about ten kids who go to my village school. I had the opportunity to meet some of them this summer and it was amazing. We communicate using letters and I can tell that their English is steadily improving. When I met them, I was amazed by their comprehension and desire to succeed. Ever heard a thirteen-year-old asking about the Blue Devils while sitting on a rock in a place where there are no phones, computers or electricity? It was priceless!

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Funding the Arts Kara Medoff-Barnet 2000, Trinity Scholar Kara Medoff-Barnett’s office in New York City’s Lincoln Center tells a story – through pictures. A poster of the 2003 Broadway revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night graces one wall. Medoff Barnett, a Trinity Scholar, won a Tony for producing that play, just three years after graduating with a BA in English from Duke. “To be part of a show like Long Day’s Journey into Night, it was just at such a high level of excellence in every way,” says Medoff-Barnett. “With the all-star cast and incredible director and production of such a classic American drama, I just felt very lucky to be in the right place at the right time, to be able to help bring that play to an

When you trust your instincts and align yourself with people you admire and respect — no matter what the organization might be or whatever your title might be — as long as you’re learning and growing and working alongside people who inspire you, you can’t go wrong. 28


audience in such a seminal production.” The poster bares the signatures of the play’s talented cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Dennehy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert Sean Leonard. “A producer brings together the artistic team and the concept and the content, then puts that together with a business model that works, and then brings together the financing,” Medoff-Barnett explains. “That’s what I found myself doing throughout my career, bringing together artists and art with commerce and business.” Medoff-Barnett is now Managing Director of Lincoln Center Global, a consulting practice with the goal of providing additional net revenue for the world’s leading performing arts center.

I have an incredible husband who is so supportive of my career. We met the summer I moved to New York, in 2000. Our first trip to North Carolina together was for the Duke-Princeton game. He played basketball at Princeton. I took him to see Duke play Princeton in Cameron. I still remember the score because it was 63 to 36, Duke over Princeton. “Riley is four and Audrey is two and I involve them in the life of Lincoln Center as much as possible and in Broadway as well. Riley has already seen Annie and Cinderella. She’s seen Nutcracker two or three times. “Reading stories to my little girls every night is a major part of my life. I’ve found a way to zip out of Lincoln Center, read a few bedtime stories, sing a couple of songs and

“To do that on Broadway, off-Broadway in the commercial theatre world and now to do that in a great non-profit institution like Lincoln Center where it’s bringing together individuals, corporations, foundations with resources to support art at the highest level and bring that to audiences here and around the world, I feel very fortunate,” says Medoff-Barnett. “I’ve been at Lincoln Center for almost seven years. I started here as a fellow out of business school, doing special projects, anything that was new and different for the institution. Then I became a little bit of an entrepreneur in residence.” Other images in Medoff-Barnett’s office capture her husband, two daughters and family back in North Carolina. “Family is a tremendous priority for me.

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still be in my seat for an 8 p.m. curtain in Times Square. I don’t know how it all works, but we’ve got a system down. As long as the one train is running, I can too. “Also, family for me is about my parents and my siblings. I have five younger siblings, two of them are Duke alumni. We have weekly conference calls every Sunday night. We try to take family trips and share major milestones and celebrations and just the ups and downs of daily life.” There are many more unseen images, of life and career, still to be captured. “The advice I always give myself is not to try to plan it all,” says Medoff-Barnett. “Be open to adventures and say, ‘I’ll give this a year and see what evolves.’ That’s certainly how I came to Lincoln Center. I thought I was going to go right back into producing Broadway shows, because I love doing that. Then I said ‘I’ll do a one-year fellowship.’ And then I said, ‘Here’s another challenge that I’ll take on for a year.’ Low and behold, seven years later I’ve had tremendous adventures and wouldn’t trade this for anything.” Photos by Staton Rabin.



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Teaching the Children

Laura Tuson 2009 – Alumni Endowed Scholar “Miss Tuson, what is this?” “Miss Tuson, can you come look at this?”

“Miss Tuson, I don’t think it’s straight,” a seventh grade student says with one hand raised and the other holding a dissected frog. “No, you did it just fine,” Laura Tuson answers, moving from one table of students to the next, providing encouraging



words and practical demonstrations. “Look right here.” The young teacher helps the student balance the frog. “Now we just have to move this and all the muscles are there.” Frog dissection may not suit everyone, but Tuson’s middle school science students seemed completely engaged when OUSF visited her Durham School of the Arts classroom last winter. “I ended up in education because of something I did at Duke,” explains Tuson, an Alumni Endowed Scholar alumna. “After

my junior year I worked at Student U, which is a program that was cofounded by another Duke scholar. It’s a middle school academic summer program for students in the Durham Public Schools. Classes are taught by college students from Duke, UNC, North Carolina Central, and some other schools. I taught science that summer to rising seventh graders and it just really clicked. I knew then that I wanted to teach.” Tuson finished her degree in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, now called Evolutionary Anthropology.

“My mom went to Duke and she graduated in 1974. The Alumni Endowed Scholarship allowed me to go to Duke. I feel very grateful for the scholarship and very privileged to have had the opportunity.”

Then she stayed a fifth year at Duke and received her certification to teach. She decided to start her teaching career in her favorite city. “Durham. Durham is my favorite city. I grew up in New York State and came to Duke for college. And once I moved off campus it was a big eye-opener. I learned a lot more about the city of Durham and I really fell in love with it, which is a big reason why I’m still here and teaching in the Durham Public Schools.”

Now in her fifth year of teaching at Durham School of the Arts, Tuson admits the classroom can be a challenge, especially for new teachers. “It’s getting easier every year, but it’s always engaging,” Tuson chuckles. “Teaching is definitely always challenging and always entertaining, especially with seventh graders. They do not let it get boring. I love teaching

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science at this level, because seventh grade science is such that the students can understand complex concepts and you can really get into it with them, but it doesn’t have to go so deep that it gets into the minutia. So, it’s at a perfect curiosity-satisfying level. I find that the students really click with that. “I’m just wrapping up teaching the human body biology unit that culminated in a frog dissection. It’s really interesting to the students because they have bodies and they want to know how everything fits together and how everything works.” Success in front of the classroom is not just the subject matter. It’s the approach. Just as students have to show up for roll call, Tuson says a good teacher must be present to be effective. “For me ‘being present’ means, no matter whatever else is happening in my life outside of the classroom, when I’m teaching there’s no time for thinking about that. You have to be really in the moment and interacting with students. That’s applicable to many things — not just being in front of the classroom and dealing with students, but dealing with what’s in front of you and not being too caught up in what’s coming next or what came before. Really value your present and be your best self in that moment.”



Many of Tuson’s moments, at least on this day, are spent one-on-one answering questions and easing students into confidently providing their answers. Hands shoot up in the air. “Miss Tuson, do we cut this out?” Two tween girls look up for a response while Tuson walks over to their table. “Yeah, go ahead and cut it,” Tuson nods and smiles. She lowers her head to their level and touches the frog with them. “Now describe the stomach lining to me. What would you say about it?”

“Yuck,” says one of the girls. The teacher laughs with them and waits patiently with a smile, until the students begin a serious and thoughtful description of the subject. Timing. Patience. Humor. Determination. Teaching middle school calls for special traits. “I love teaching because I feel it really is impactful,” says Tuson. “I have 105 students, on a daily basis, with whom I’m maintaining these relationships. On a personal level and an academic level it feels meaningful. I’m happy to be here.” Photos by Caroline Holcomb.

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Being a Writer

Josephine Humphreys 1967 Angier B. Duke Scholar


ovelist Josephine Humphreys began writing as a child, but never knew she would actually write books or make a life of the thing she loved to do. “I knew I loved writing, but I didn’t think I could quote ‘be a writer’,” says Humphreys. “It was just too ambitious – too big. But in Reynolds Price’s class at Duke, my freshman year, I began to see that it was possible. He talked about writing as not a career, but as something more important, as something that would be a part of your life forever.” Humphreys would go on to earn her Masters in English Literature at Yale and later a doctorate degree. She taught writing at Baptist College, in her hometown of Charleston, putting her writing on hiatus, a very long hiatus.



“Eleven years went by before I started writing fiction,” says Humphreys. “Not only did I not submit a novel, I did not write anything. I did not write for eleven years. There was a good bit of fear that I couldn’t do it. Aside from Reynolds [A.B. Duke Scholar 1955], I don’t think I even knew another writer, or had even met another writer.” Humphreys’s first book, Dreams of Sleep earned the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. “One of the first reviews of Dreams of Sleep said, ‘This book reads like this lady has been storing up stuff to write for the last ten years’,” Humphreys chuckles. “And it was true. When I finely came to write, I just realized I couldn’t go on the way I was going. I liked teaching. I loved being a mom. I was having a good time, but there was just something missing and something in me that I had to get back to. That’s when I quit work and started writing.” Her novel Rich in Love was adapted into a 1993 film, starring Albert Finney and Jill Clayburgh. Humphreys won the 2001

Southern Book Award for Nowhere Else on Earth. Although it’s her personal favorite of the books she has penned, Humphreys admits she was nervous about the subject matter. The book is based on the history of the Native American Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. “I’m writing about people of color. I’m not a person of color. And that raised a lot of ethical questions. Can white people use these stories from nonwhite people? I thought it over very carefully. No, it’s not right to do. Then I went ahead and did it anyway, because it was a passionate interest of mine. At times during that process I would be seized by fear.”

right away.’ And they did. They were wonderful.” Long before the book awards and the big screen, Humphreys knew she had someone in her corner. “It was nice to be in college and know that someone was glad that you were there,” she says. “That’s what the A.B. Duke scholarship meant to me.”

Although members of the Lumbee community encouraged her to proceed, Humphreys worried about the Lumbee reaction. She read the local newspaper review. “The first line of the story said, ‘How many times do we have to say this? No more white people coming in and doing this.’ And then it said, ‘But there are exceptions to the rule. This is a book that you should all go out and buy,

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“I got my start, as a writer, at Duke.�

Humphreys reads from her novel Nowhere Else on Earth.



ON WRITING “Morning.” It’s Josephine Humphreys’s one-word and emphatic answer to her favorite time of day to write. She’s sitting in her Charleston writing studio, having just returned from Haiti, for research on her next book. “And as I get closer to finishing the book I get up earlier and earlier each morning until I’m getting up at 1 a.m.” As for discipline? “I don’t even like the word. I’m so undisciplined I don’t even like to think about it.” But when she’s ready to work, Humphreys is full throttle. “There’s something in my brain that makes me go full speed when I start. I sometimes even spend the night in the office. I sink into the book and there’s no other reality for me for a while. That’s the state of mind that’s most wonderful and most mysterious for me as a writer.

“It amazes me that somebody can write a novel or a collection of short stories. Even now I look back at some of my books and I think, ‘That’s pretty good. How in the world did I do that? How did I write that?’ And when I’m writing I don’t like what I’ve written. I’ve never been happy with a book when I finish it and send it off to the publisher. Two or three years later, I look at it and I think, ‘Oh gosh, that’s really good.’” Her advice to beginning writers is simple. “Read. I don’t really think that’s a separate thing from writing. I have this secret faith that almost anybody can write. If you read a lot, if you’re interested in people, you can write. We all have language. Every child has language. Work hard, read hard, and laugh a lot.” Photos by Peter Finger.

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Photo by Elisabeth Fall

Bridging the Gap Korin Crawford 1998 – Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar

Morning fog shrouded

much of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge during OUSF’s interview with Korin Crawford ‘98. The Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar likened the fog to entrepreneurship — a business filled with uncertainty, where leaders create bridges to make clear connections. For Crawford, Founder and CEO of Ekology Infrastructure, an Oakland firm that provides advisory and economic services for large-scale urban revitalization and infrastructure projects, the unclear horizon creates more excitement than fear.

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“One of the key challenges, which I find so wonderful about entrepreneurship, is that you really learn how to act amidst fear and how to thrive within uncertainty,” explains Crawford. “It really builds this deep ocean of resilience and optimism that you can bring to a whole variety of aspects of your life.” Crawford credits his mentors at Duke for instilling a solid spirit of entrepreneurship in his professional life. “Three mentors come to mind,” says Crawford. “Dr. George Stetten worked in the Biomedical Engineering Department. I did a research project with him in the ERC program. He really advocated for me. I won the Faculty Scholar Award my junior year and he recommended me. He had faith in me and saw potential in me. His faith in me was huge for how I thought about myself as a scholar, and how I thought about what I could achieve. “I really worked hard in Dr. Richard Fair’s



classes. He was a big supporter. It was amazing to have close interaction with an esteemed professor who took time out to have dialogue and invite you into his thinking. “Dr. John Board in Electrical Engineering was also a strong supporter of students doing their own projects and turning them into products, or startups, or ventures down the road. He would not discount the ability of young people to do something in the professional world that one’s experience would not suggest you could do.” Crawford brings together diverse experiences and background — BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Duke and Stanford, paired with business experience in tech start-ups and real estate. He integrates the combination into his urban design ventures. “One of the more salient contributions that I’ve made is, in 2009-2010, I built

a townhouse project in Oakland,” says Crawford. “When I initially saw the land for sale, I took my laptop out and started designing how these townhouses would look. Several years later they were built and the project was done with a fresh approach. It was a very high quality prefab project, shipped from southern Washington and craned into place. It was pioneering and innovative from a construction sense, incorporating green building and energy efficiency measures. For me, I like technology. I like innovation. I wanted to integrate that within a community context, because I did feel that I was more than just a technologist. I was someone who had more to offer and a broader swath of influences and conversations that I was able to have with people. “That was how my career progression worked. It started with this core understanding of technology and entrepreneurship, then taking a bit of a risk and moving into the community

development space, and then continuing to follow an innovative path. Now it’s gone full circle to where I’m really looking at ways in which we’re re-inventing urban infrastructure, community-scale energy systems, and incorporating technology into an urban fabric, taking all the lessons learned around finance and design and the like that I’ve learned in the real estate field. I’ve come out with this new hybrid approach that incorporates all of these influences that I’ve had over the last fifteen years.” Crawford can view those fifteen years of influence in tangible form. “The townhouse venture was a really strong contribution to the community around it,” reflects Crawford. “I can drive by it and see this block of townhouses and say, ‘This is something I built. I saw the land. I had a vision.’”

Korin Crawford talks about his mentors at Duke, and why they made a real difference, in this Alumni Highlight video.

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DESIGNING COOL STUFF Lina Colucci 2012 – Robertson Scholar

Fantastic would not

be an inaccurate word to describe Robertson Scholar alumna Lina Colucci. Fantasy is what led the Harvard-MIT Ph.D. candidate to engineering. “When I was younger I loved imagining that I had traveled back in time to a particular era,” says Colucci. “I had to take inventory of what had been developed by that time and how I would proceed to invent the remainder.



My goal was to be able to build everything we have today to the same extent or better.”

with her engineering skills to improve the safety, comfort, and ergonomics of the pointe shoe.

Better. A better ballet pointe shoe after two centuries of the same design. With designers from IDEO and Nike, Colucci helped develop the DANZA shoe. A ballerina for the Harvard Ballet Company, Duke University Dance Program, the American Academy of Ballet and others, Colucci blended her love of dance

Colucci is currently working on the way we measure hydration of the human body. She’s developing a portable device that will measure a person’s hydration levels. The noninvasive technology, part of her MIT Doctoral research, may one day improve health outcomes and save lives.

Photos by Jose Colucci, Jr. “I just wanted to build cool stuff,” says Colucci, who is also a classical and jazz clarinetist. “Studying Mechanical Engineering at Duke was a natural choice. However, throughout most of college I had no definition of ‘cool stuff.’ My Robertson friends and I spent a lot of time

discussing what we wanted to do with our lives and I was struggling with how to merge ‘cool’ and ‘beneficial to humanity.’ My passions for building elegant technical solutions and for improving peoples’ lives felt disconnected.” A series of experiences

helped Colucci realize biomedical engineering was an area where she could combine both passions. “During my study abroad semester in Sweden, I decided, on a whim, to attend the first day of a course called

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‘Biomechanics of Human Movement.’ By the end of that first day it struck me that it was beautiful to apply engineering principles to the human body. I took several other courses at the intersection of engineering and biology, and by the time senior year at Duke rolled around I realized that I wanted to develop engineering solutions for healthcare. I had found a field where my passions aligned.” The joint PhD in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Program aids in Colucci’s interdisciplinary approach to advancing healthcare and healthcare delivery. Much in the same way she embraced the Robertson program’s blend of Duke campus with UNC campus, Colucci is once again enjoying a dualschool life. “It is elating to go from Control Systems class at MIT to Pathology class at Harvard Medical School, to go from the machine shop to observing an autopsy, or from a workshop at the Media Lab to shadowing a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. As someone who wants to build technical solutions for



healthcare, it is invaluable to have a life in these two worlds.” In between classes and labs, Colucci finds time to organize hackathons for the student group, MIT Hacking Medicine. For current Duke students considering a science PhD path, Colucci offers some advice. “Make sure you have a strong conviction of what you want to do after graduation. This doesn’t mean that the goal can’t change along the way, but graduate school is a marathon that I think makes the most sense when you’re running toward a target. Second, if your program allows you to do so, rotate in different labs before picking one. Even if you think you’ve found the lab of your dreams right off the bat, still rotate. If your initial pick is right, rotations will only reinforce the fact.” Colucci plans to continue her dance, music, engineering innovations, and health entrepreneurship. “I know that I want to be an entrepreneur and inventor in the medical space. I would like to be involved in a startup — preferably

my own — in the digital health domain. Steve Jobs recognized toward the end of his life that ‘a healthcare revolution is beginning just like the computer one when [he] was [young].’ I want to make a dent in the healthcare revolution.” Colucci has been selected as a speaker for TEDxBrussels in December 2014. Follow Lina Colucci’s blog on the future of health care at linacolucci.com/ blog/.

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Combating Barriers Sarah H. Lisanby, M.D. 1987 – Angier B. Duke Scholar It comes with stigma. It’s something most of us try to avoid, but Sarah Lisanby deals with depression daily, on the job. Curing depression is her life’s work. “The stigma of depression continues to be a barrier that stands between people who are suffering and the treatment that can alleviate that suffering,”



says Lisanby. “And that’s really tragic. No one should have to suffer in silence when effective treatment is available.” An internationally recognized leader in the field of brain stimulation, Lisanby is professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Duke University School of

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Medicine. In her current role, Lisanby, an A.B. Duke alumna, provides leadership at the very place where she learned to be a leader. “It was in my freshman and sophomore years at Duke when I started volunteering in the hospital and shadowing psychiatrists that I began to understand the difference between medical training and psychology training,” says Lisanby. “And that’s where I made a decision to become a doctor.”



Lisanby completed medical school at Duke, followed by her internship and residency in psychiatry at Duke. She joined Columbia University for her postdoctoral research fellowship, where she founded and directed their brain stimulation division. In her specific research role at Duke, Lisanby’s focus is treatment-resistant depression. “Brain stimulation, or neuromodulation therapy, provides the next generation of therapy for depression. I continue to do research focused on

developing new treatments for depression, finding new ways to stimulate the brain and provide safer alternatives than the conventional ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy. For example, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, TMS, offers new hope when other treatments fail.” TMS creates a magnetic field that induces a small electrical impulse in the brain, allowing doctors to very carefully target the area they want to stimulate. Lisanby helped usher TMS to the level of FDA approval. It’s now

available and clinically offered to people. It offers new hope when other psychotherapy or medications fail. “Families come to me when they are really at their wits end,” says Lisanby. “They’ve tried everything and so many of them have lost hope, because year after year nothing has helped. To be able to sit down with that family and say, ‘Thank goodness you’re here, because we can do something about this.’ A few weeks down the road to have them experience that recovery and get their lives back: I never get tired of it. It’s very rewarding. When I was an undergraduate at Duke, the treatments that I work with now had not yet been invented.” Lisanby was a university student before she ever met a psychiatrist – Keith Brody. “He was the president of Duke when I came here as an A.B. Duke Scholar,” explains Lisanby. “I got to take a senior class with him. To see someone like that was very inspiring. He really introduced me to the field of psychiatry, being able to apply knowledge in

Families come to me when they are really at their wits end. They’ve tried everything and so many of them have lost hope. To be able to sit down with that family and say, ‘Thank goodness you’re here, because we can do something about this.’

a way that is meaningful in people’s lives.” What she learned as a Duke student and what she accomplishes as a Duke department chair, professor, and medical practitioner brings Lisanby full circle. “The thing I love most is being able to do something that is going to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Lisanby. “It’s

really rewarding to see someone have a complete recovery from their depression. It’s a wonderful and honorable privilege to be in this position. And now I’m educating the next generation of psychiatrists and psychologists.” Photos by Jim Wallace.

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READING CORNER Danielle Gray 2000 Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar: Simple Justice, by Richard Kluger, is the book that made me want to go to law school. It basically chronicles the Civil Rights Movement. I just remember reading the book when I was in college, and thinking, “I owe so much. I have it so easy.” I was incredibly inspired by these people and what they did. I like to think that the book gave me some of the courage to move forward and pursue things that were off the beaten track.

Lina Colucci 2012 Robertson Scholar: I particularly love biographies and really enjoyed The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, by Paul Hoffman. It’s about Paul Erdos, a genius mathematician who collaborated with so many mathematicians during his life that his friends created the “Erdos Number” as a humorous description of their degree of separation from him. Erdos’s kind of prolific collaboration with many people represents something I want for my own life.

David Plylar 2001 University Scholar: I’m more of a classics type of guy, but a more recent book that I’ve been enjoying is a biography, Goethe: The Poet and the Age, by Nicholas Boyle. It’s a projected three-volume biography. I always feel that biographers who write really well get short shrifted when it comes to what they’ve accomplished, because they devote their entire lives to the study of another life or an epoch in this case. I’m on the second volume right now.



Carina Barnett-Loro 2009 B.N. Duke Scholar: A book called Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, really helped to shift my paradigm. The premise: A guy happens upon a gorilla in a cage and they talk about civilization and the idea that as a society we have takers and leavers. As humans we often adopt a taker mentality that everything is for our own enjoyment. That only happened when we became an agriculture society, putting down roots and trying to accumulate wealth.

Joshua Foromera 2013 Karsh International Scholar: Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is about a group of people called the Hmong who came from Laos during the Vietnam War. As refugees who spoke no English and had different religious beliefs, their interaction with the medical system was filled with mistrust from both the doctors and the patients, and a young child is caught in the middle of the whole misunderstanding. I highly recommend this book, especially for premeds. Gifted Hands. Dr. Ben Carson wrote this one. Do I have to say anything else?

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Joshua Foromera 2013 – Karsh International Scholar: This will sound mean to my brave friends who sacrificed everything to stay at the University of Zimbabwe, but for me I think the best mistake I ever made was to leave the University of Zimbabwe. Since then I have had many opportunities that I would never have dreamed of or imagined.



Sarah, Lisanby, M.D. 1987 A.B. Duke Scholar – I recall an evening where we were going to have a very fundamental experiment the next day. I made the mistake of going out the night before to celebrate with a big steak dinner. I thought, “This experiment is going to go so well, we’re going out to celebrate.” And the experiment didn’t work the next day. I realized you should not count your chickens before they’re hatched. You really need to be open to the possibility that the experiment is going to fail. It turned out to be an important failure, because that was then the beginning of a series of systematic studies that I was able to do to figure out what is the right dosage and the right device. I was able to work with the engineers to develop a more effective device. Ultimately we were successful, a few years down the road, but we learned a lot during that process.

Carina Barnett-Loro 2009 – B.N. Duke Scholar: When I found Green Corps I was excited, but I think of it as the best mistake I ever made, because going in if I had known how much work it was going to be I would never have done it. It was really hard, but it was wonderful. The skills that I learned, the people that I met, the responsibility that I had, and what I learned from running different environmental campaigns across the country have been invaluable.


Korin Crawford 1998 – Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar: Think of your career as spinning a web. Your web creates a strong foundation for you to move in different areas and navigate the little piece of the world that you carve out for yourself. Go out there and do something creative.

Sarah Lisanby, M.D. 1987, A.B. Duke Scholar – Remain open to possibilities. Take risks that are educated risks, because by doing that we stretch, we grow, and we discover the person that we’re meant to become. It’s not all deterministic. There was a lot of chance that factored into my life and my career. Being open to those chance possibilities is making yourself open to what the future has to hold for you.

Laura Tuson 2009 – Alumni Endowed Scholar: It’s really helpful to have professors as mentors who can advise you in the field that you’re interested in and who know you as an individual. Mentors see you as more than just someone who shows up in their class. They are people who will speak with you outside of their classes about your particular interest, to get to know you better and be able to advise you better. It’s a great move for students to see those mentors and cultivate those relationships.

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SCHOLAR Spotlight

Brittany Wenger World Changer About a year ago, Time magazine placed Brittany Wenger on their list of the “30 People Under 30 Changing the World.” She was just 19 and wrapping up her first semester as an A.B. Duke scholar. The year before, Wenger had presented her cancer diagnostics work at TEDx CERN in Switzerland. “My goal was to create a program that could provide a tool for doctors to use in the analysis of fine needle aspirates,” Wenger told the CERN audience. “I wanted to create an artificial neural network that could make breast cancer diagnosis quicker, cheaper, less invasive, and more importantly, more accurate.” Wenger uses code for her project, which is being beta-tested in two hospitals: Lankenau Medical Center in Philadelphia and the European Institute of Oncology in Italy. “I’ve extended it to work with leukemia diagnosis, which proves it may work with many, if not all, types of cancer,” says Wenger.



Google and GAP featured Wenger in global video campaigns, showcasing amazing women who are making a difference. Perhaps Wenger’s greatest honor: meeting President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair just days after deciding she was coming to Duke. “He spent about ten minutes asking me about my research,” recalls Wenger. “As he was walking away he said something along the lines of, ‘I’m proud of you, Brittany.’ That was just incredible to hear that from the President of the United States.” Wenger plans to apply her program to ovarian cancer research in Duke’s Murphy lab. After Duke, she wants to earn a joint MD/PhD and become a pediatric oncologist.

Scholar Photos by Jim Wallace

“I’m really interested in combining my PASSION for computer science with improving cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

To learn more about Brittany Wenger and her work, watch her Google “Made with Code” video.

Brittany Wenger

Angier B. Duke Scholar 2017 Hometown: Sarasota, Florida Major: Computational Biology

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SCHOLAR Spotlight


Kramer Duke From the Beginning Max Kramer’s undergraduate career at Duke seems destined from the beginning, albeit a rough beginning. “I have a heart defect,” explains Kramer, who had a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. “I had my open heart surgery at Duke Medical when I was three weeks old. So, Duke kind of holds a special place in my heart.” The university also holds family tradition for Kramer, an Alumni Endowed Scholar. “My mom went to Duke,” says Kramer. “She graduated in ’87 as a public policy major. I’ve been engaged with the university from a young age. I’ve grown up cheering for Duke basketball. I came to reunions when I was a child, with my mom.” At home with his family this summer, Kramer worked with his hometown Mathnasium branch. “Many of the kids are working on summer classes to recover credits and some have learning disabilities, ADD and ADHD being the most common,” says Kramer.



“However, there are also some kids who just love math. I find it rewarding to help both types of students; with one the reward is redemption, with the other it’s the pleasure of the “Ah!” moment or the joyful struggle of mastery.” Kramer’s research this semester also focuses on youth. “I’m applying game theory methods to investigate moral judgments and subsequent cooperation in youth with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders,” says Kramer. His research and his long history with Duke assure Kramer he made the right choice. “I explored other schools, but Duke was always the one that was a given for me,” says Kramer. “The campus was a huge draw. The atmosphere always felt like what a college campus should be. It was those intangibles that made Duke a good fit for me.”

“I had my open heart surgery at Duke Medical when I was three weeks old. So, Duke kind of holds a special place in my HEART.”

If you’d like to learn more about Max Kramer watch his Scholar Spotlight video.

Max Kramer

Alumni Endowed Scholar 2017 Hometown: Tampa, Florida Major: Psychology Minor: Economics Certificate: PPE

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SCHOLAR Spotlight

Dominique Beaudry The Right Thing Awarded the Truman Scholarship for excellence in public service earlier this year, Dominique Beaudry’s passion for education and social change is evident in most everything she does. Teaching is her tool. She tutors in Durham Public Schools and with Partners for Youth Opportunities Durham. This summer, Beaudry taught social studies to underserved Miami middle schools students who want to go to college. “Along with content, I focused on building skills such as debate and graphing, forcing the students to engage inquisitively with history and to probe beyond the common narratives we may assume are true. I emphasized reading and writing heavily, and I tried to encourage them to learn for the sake of learning and for their own future. I grew immensely in my understanding of the importance of teaching as a craft, and teachers being sources of guidance, support, and exemplary leadership.” The B.N. Duke Scholar has not limited her teaching to grade school. As Chair of the Duke Honor Council, Beaudry coaches her peers on moral courage and learning from mistakes. She also instructed “Intergenerational Ethics,” a house course for a blended class of undergraduates and Duke community members, including retirees.



“The word integrity is not really used in our generation, but I don’t think the meaning has changed,” says Beaudry. “My dad and I once had a really long talk where he emphasized how integrity is all you have. If you’re doing things right, if you can sleep at night, if you can be honest with people, you’re living your life well. If you follow your passion and pair it with intergrity, you’re going to be fine.” Beaudry plans to follow her passion at the 2015 Truman Summer Institute where she hopes to intern at the White House, with the Cabinet Affairs or Domestic Policy Council. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. or dual Masters program combining public policy, economics, and education, before becoming superintendent for a large school district. First, she wants to teach 9th or 10th grade social studies. “I feel like it’s a really critical time in adolescent development,” says Beaudry. “It’s a time when my friends and I were asking, ‘Do we want to go down this path or that path?’ It’s a time when there are a lot of decisions students might not have the most guidance on. So, I really want to act in that capacity as a teacher.”

“I cannot wait to be a teacher. I cannot wait to ENGAGE in leadership roles, to SPREAD what I’ve learned and will learn to more schools and more children.”

To learn more about Dominique Beaudry and her role as Chair of Duke Honor Council, watch this Scholar Spotlight video.

Dominique Beaudry

Benjamin N. Duke Scholar 2015 Hometown: Concord, North Carolina Major: Public Policy Studies Minors: Education and Psychology

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Laxmi Rajak Untouchable In Nepal, Laxmi Rajak was labeled “untouchable.” “Coming from that background, my friends’ parents did not let them play with me because I was from a lower caste,” explains Rajak, now a Karsh International scholar at Duke. Rajak is not ashamed of her status, but she does find it shameful that girls and lower-caste members in her native country face extreme obstacles to getting an education. She traveled to Nepal this summer to do something about it. “I wanted to do research on why lowercaste students are dropping out of school,” says Rajak. She gathered data and interviewed students in three Nepali districts. The previous summer she worked with the WISERBridge in Kenya, teaching math, English, science, and dance to WISER girls and primary school students.



Unstoppable “After Duke, I am planning to take a gap year and expand my research to other parts of Nepal,” says Rajak. “Eventually I want to go to graduate school, further develop my research, and create WISER or something similar in Nepal,” says Rajak. “I would like to work with the United Nations, so that I have the knowledge, power, and experience to fight against the system. There are very few lower-caste girls from Nepal who make it to the top U.S. universities.” Rajak is one of them.

“My future goal is to ELIMINATE the caste-based discrimination, at least from schools in Nepal, so that every child can EXPERIENCE equal educational OPPORTUNITIES.”

To learn more about Laxmi Rajak watch her Scholar Spotlight Video.

Laxmi Rajak

Karsh International Scholar 2015 Hometown: Sanothimi, Nepal Majors: International Comparative Studies and Mathematics Minor: Education

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Sbusisiwe “Busi” Sibeko the Way Leading Sbusisiwe “Busi” Sibeko climbed Mount Kilimanjaro as a teenager, but it’s hardly her most difficult challenge or greatest accomplishment. A confident and outgoing student from a child-headed household in the Tembisa Township of Johannesburg, South Africa, Sibeko became one of the first MasterCard Foundation Scholars to study at Duke University, when the program began in the Fall of 2012. She was the first member of her family to finish high school and attend college.

videos with students saying why they are going back and giving back. We also have great hope of inspiring high school students to apply to college.”

“When I applied I did not have a first choice school and then gradually Duke became my first choice university,” says Sibeko. “I’ve never been around people who are so much like me in a sense. I’m surrounded by people who are passionate and so motivated.”

“I want to go back to make a change,” says Sibeko. “South Africa has a lot of crime and teenage pregnancy. It’s going to take a lot of time to change it. My friends seem to think I’ll be the next South African president. For me, I’ll be satisfied with just doing my little part, even if it’s just that little building step toward the goal.”

During Sibeko’s sophomore year, her peers around the globe elected her as the first MasterCard Foundation Scholars Council Executive Committee Chairperson. “What’s exciting is that this is the first council. We have to create a legacy of lasting programs that will continue. One of the ideas we’ve come up with is the “Going Back” campaign.” We’ll have



For the past two summers Sibeko, whose interests lie in economic development and development aid on the African continent, has completed internships in South Africa. This summer she worked with the Mandela Institute for Development Studies or MINDS. Ultimately, she wants to return to her home country.

“I am going to university as a symbol of HOPE to my community that anything is possible. I carry my community’s yearning for someone to make a significant CHANGE, someone to break the cycle of poverty.”

See Busi Sibeko’s full story in this special video presentation made just weeks after she arrived on the Duke campus.

Sbusisiwe “Busi” Sibeko

MasterCard Foundation Scholar 2016 Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa Major: B.S. Economics

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Ernie Britt Talking Politics Most college juniors do not have redistricting discussions with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but that was part of Ernie Britt’s 2014 summer. The Reginaldo Howard Memorial scholar, who is interested in political science and English, was in his element during a research internship in Washington, D.C. “The first day on the job with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I ran into Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi,” recalls Britt. “The following weeks were filled with many new experiences. I had lunch with DCCC Chairman and U.S. Representative Steve Israel [D-NY 3rd District]. My average day consisted of researching candidates, talking politics and current events with my coworkers, monitoring congressional races happening all across the country, and then battling the crowds on the Metro. I also took a Duke law class.” Britt is just as active on campus. He’s the Director of Communications for BSA, President of BPLA, and active with Duke Democrats. He’s also an intern in Duke’s Office of News and Communications and a Multimedia Project Studio Consultant with OIT. Ernie put his multimedia skills to work to create films that he hopes will incite social change. “I became involved in making a documentary through a class called ‘Video for Social Change,’” says Britt. “The focus of the class that semester was



on voting rights in North Carolina and elsewhere. I spent the previous semester writing a research paper on the issue of voter ID and voter fraud. I was able to combine my interest in documentary film with my interest in political action and social change.” Britt and his classmates created a video for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We focused on a small town in eastern North Carolina, called Kinston, where people in the recent past were discouraged from voting either through voting location changes or different policies that were enacted to reduce voter turnout,” explains Britt. “We interviewed them and heard their stories. People in rural areas were the ones who were most impacted by discriminatory voting practices. I definitely believe storytelling in this way makes a difference because it attaches a face to a problem a lot of people don’t know about.” Britt’s video became the centerpiece of the Reggie scholarship program’s annual event, this year called “Reggie Day 2014: Equal Protection Under the Law?” The video project and his summer internships have shaped Britt’s future plans. “I’ve always considered going to law school. I now realize how important civil rights law is for everyone. Working on a project like this has changed how I view politics and how I view my place in politics.”

“It’s one thing to be apathetic toward government, but if you are apathetic toward VOTING then you can’t even participate in your government. I realize how IMPORTANT that right is to everyone.”

You can watch the Voting Rights Act Section 5 video here.

Ernie Britt

Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar 2016 Hometown: Ormond Beach, Florida Majors: Political Science and English Minor: Spanish

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Gift Nyikayaramba Ener gized Gift Nyikayaramba has 500 million reasons for his research on solar energy. “Five hundred million people on the African continent do not have power,” Nyikayaramba told an audience this summer at a General Electric event for the 2014 US-Africa Summit. “The vast majority of the continent does not have electricity.” Although the native of Zimbabwe had power in his home, it was often unreliable, with frequent outages and unpredictable restoration periods. He began to channel his frustrations over the problem. “When I came to Duke I became passionate about solar energy, because it was a way to solve the problem of energy, using resources that are widely available in Zimbabwe,” says Nyikayaramba. Namely, one available resource – the sun. “One problem with that is that solar energy, as is, is very expensive,” explains Nyikayaramba. “My goal is to bring down the cost of solar energy by fabricating



organic solar cells. The past year I’ve been working on research to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells, so that they can go to market in a sustainable way. We need to find innovative financial solutions for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Organic solar cell energy is cheaper in environmental and economical costs. It’s also very versatile.” Robertson scholar Nyikayaramba would like to go to graduate school and continue his study of solar cells. “This is an outlet of my power and my energy that greatly excites me,” he tells the OUSF team. “That’s what brings me to the lab four to five hours every week. I want to see it benefit people’s lives.”

“This is an outlet for my POWER and my ENERGY that greatly excites me.�

Join Gift Nyikayaramba in the lab and learn more about his organic solar cell project by watching this Scholar Spotlight video.

Gift Nyikayaramba

Robertson Scholar 2015 Hometown: Harare, Zimbabwe Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering Minor: Energy Engineering

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Ryan Gaylord That’s a Rap He produces string quartet minuets. Ryan Gaylord also produces hip-hop music – Arabic rap music. President of duArts and music director for the all-male a cappella group Speak of the Devil, Gaylord incorporates music into nearly every area of his life. “I’ve been involved in music for as long as I can remember,” says Gaylord, a Trinity scholar. But as president of the Duke International Relations Association, with a double major in Public Policy and Arabic, Gaylord is more than a one-hit wonder when it comes to applying academic disciplines. “I started working on this continuing project where me and a bunch of friends produce covers of resistance music from the Middle East, in solidarity with artists fighting for human rights around the world,” explains Gaylord. “Scott Lindroth, the Vice Provost for the Arts, thought it was a great example of synergizing language study, policy studies, and music.“ Gaylord presented his work as a student



artist panelist at a Duke Forward fundrasing event in Los Angeles. “I have these ideas and people have been very willing to say, ‘Yes, go for it’,” says Gaylord. “A great example is: I spent two months traveling across Northern Africa, interviewing rappers from the region, literally speaking their language, and giving them a blank canvas to tell their story of fighting for human rights in the Middle East.” Gaylord has coupled his research with service work in the region. With Duke Engage in Egypt, Gaylord designed music curricula and taught music to children. It’s not quite what Gaylord expected of his undergraduate studies, which he assumed meant putting music on the back burner. “When I arrived at Duke I said, ‘It’s time to get down to business.’ After everyone I’ve talked to in the music department, the Arabic department, and in public policy at Sanford, thankfully that turned out not to be the case.” Gaylord plans to work on public policy in Washington, D.C.

“I have these IDEAS and people have been very willing to say, ‘YES, go for it.’”

To hear Ryan Gaylord ’s music watch this Scholar Spotlight video.

Ryan Gaylord

A. J. Tannenbaum Trinity Scholar 2015 Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina Majors: Public Policy and Arabic

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


SCHOLAR Spotlight

Arun Karottu Start it up Co-founder and vice president of an electronic waste start-up, forging new paths comes naturally to Arun Karottu. From Kerala, India, Karottu says the students from his school who attended U.S. universities were few and far between. “No one there has really gone to a big school or a school like Duke,” explains Karottu. “When I took the SATs no one knew what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was doing.” Still, he did it. “It was a lot of hard work,” admits Karottu, who won a place in the University Scholars Program at Duke. “And not just that. It’s hard to dream when you’ve never seen anyone do it. You don’t even know it’s possible. All you know is that you read something on the Internet. I took a lot of risks. This one paid off.” Risk-taking continues to propel Karottu forward. His sophomore year start-up, KlickOp, was technology that he hoped would allow surgeons to perform tasks, like manipulating scans and video conferencing with other physicians, hands-free. It didn’t pan out. He kept at it.



Karottu is now co-founder and vice president of another company, Smart Metals Recycling, founded by fellow University scholar Shelly Li. “We started with recycling metallic waste, but now we deal exclusively with end-oflife electronics,” says Karottu. “We have grown mostly by focusing our efforts on large corporations and manufacturers in North Carolina with e-waste. As a result, we now have a warehouse, near Charlotte, with 100,000 square feet. We are bringing in $500,000 in revenue per month—handling almost 100,000 pounds of e-waste every day. Smart Metals works with some major clients now, including Goodwill Industries, Republic Wireless, and PRC. “All of my previous projects have been technical, and I decided I was going to do something else for a change,” says Karottu. “My philosophy is, ‘Take a risk.’ Jump into stuff. You might end up in places you don’t want to be, but you’ll learn. You’ll figure it out.”

“It’s hard to DREAM when you’ve never seen anyone do it. You don’t even know it’s POSSIBLE.”

Arun Karottu – Start it Up

University Scholar 2015 Hometown: Cochin, Kerala, India Major: Computer Science

Interested in learning more about Arun Karottu and some of his ideas? Watch his Scholar Spotlight video.

The Office of Undergraduate Scholars & Fellows


B.N. Duke Scholar Alumni CONNECT WITH YOUR SCHOLAR COMMIUNITY B.N. Duke scholars create a community, during their undergraduate careers at Duke University and well beyond as they establish professional careers. The connection with alumni as mentors is a key component of the B.N. Duke community. Our scholars will be calling alumni in the coming months to ask how you might like to be involved in mentoring scholars, attending events, and being a guest speaker. Click here if you would like to schedule your phone call with a current scholar, in advance. bndukealumni@duke.edu

What makes a B.N. Duke Scholar? Watch our video.

A.B. Duke Scholar Alumni Join our Connection

We want to stay connected with you and hear about the amazing things you are doing. Join our Buddy Press group. Just send us an email at abdukealumni@duke.edu, if you’ve forgotten your username and password or want more information. Check out the difference the A.B. Duke Scholarship makes for current scholars in our Scholars of Excellence video.

DISTINCTION See the A.B. Duke difference in this video.

Let us know what you think about issue 1, and what you’d like to see in upcoming issues.

Issue 1, Fall 2014