Hometown: Chapin, SC Highschool: Chapin HIgh School Major: PPS
Imagine yourself doing what you love and loving what you do, being happy from the inside out, living your dreams wide awake, creative, unique, you-changing things to the way you know they can be - enjoying the life you've always imagined. (quote from a greeting card)
January 1, 2011
In a few short weeks, Iâ€™ll be starting my fourth semester at Duke and my mind is blown as I now realize that I have already completed 1/3 of my undergraduate college experience! Since I last updated my profile, I have gone on my Carolina Summer of Service. My class of 12 scholars went to Marion, SC for the summer of 2010 and we had a blast! Not only did we all become great friends, we also worked with and served the Marion, Mullins, and Florence communities. My internship was with two non-profit organizations and I learned about the many hats that have to be worn by the executive director of a non-profit. My experience was meaningful and engaging and our BN class thoroughly enjoyed living together for the summer! More recently, Iâ€™ve declared my major as public policy and even more exciting for me is my minor and newfound passion: photography. This past fall I took a photography class that furthered and strengthened my desire to take on the world from behind the camera lens. Pictures really do express 1000 words, and the best memories can be revisited again and again long after the moment itself has passed. Iâ€™m currently planning to incorporate photography into my international summer of service plans in East Africa this summer (more details to come about this). I canâ€™t wait to see all that this new year will bring, including our new class of 2015 BN family members!
Five years ago when asked where I wanted to go to college, Duke was at the top of the list. One year ago, as I was writing and rewriting countless essays and filling out endless college application forms, if asked the same question, "Duke" wasn't looking like a possibility anymore. Why? Because it wasnâ€™t until one year ago that I began to understand how hard it was to actually get accepted to the top schools in the country, and not to mention how expensive these schools would cost to attend. Thus â€śDukeâ€ť faded from an enthusiastic answer into what I referred to as my "reach" school, the one I applied to just to see if I could, by some stretch of the imagination, get accepted. So of course, just like most high school seniors, I was applying for scholarships as well, and eagerly waiting to hear back from each of them with hopes of accumulating enough to pay for the majority of my college tuition. I was baffled, however, the day that I got the phone call informing me that I had been selected as a finalist for the B.N. Duke Scholarship. I had not received my acceptance letter from Duke and I hadn't knowingly applied for any scholarships there. Nonetheless, I was beyond excited and I anxiously anticipated the "finalist weekend" in March.
I had attended finalist weekends at other universities, but that didn't settle my nerves regarding spending a weekend with other students, who I assumed were all geniuses, at Duke. The weekend, however, was a much different experience than I had envisioned. The other finalists were actually fun to be around and my nervous stomach was quickly eased. So the weekend ended and life continued on until I got the call that I honestly would have never even imagined a few months prior; Duke University was offering me the B.N. Duke Scholarship. Of course I was overwhelmed with excitement, but I now had a huge decision to make. The visits to various institutions, the pros and cons list for each, the mystery of where I actually belonged was yet to be solved.
The B.N. Scholarship offer, my excitement, and all logical paths led me to Duke, however, my lingering uncertainties regarding my decision did not vanish until several days after I arrived on campus in August. As I sat with my newly made friends in the Chapel at Convocation, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions welcomed the Class of 2013. Towards the end of his speech, he asked us to consider some of the remarkable tasks that students in the room, our new classmates, had already accomplished prior to becoming Duke Students. As Dean Guttentag began mentioning national award winning students and student entrepreneurs, I was shocked when he mentioned me, not by name, but by one of my recent accomplishments. It was at that moment, amongst the other 1700 freshman students in the Chapel that I realized I did fit in at Duke and that they had not made a mistake by admitting me to their freshman class. It was only a few minutes after Dean Guttentag's welcoming speech that I heard further confirmation. As Dean Nowicki put it, "We didnâ€™t bring you here as bright and shiny new Duke students just to polish you up a bit more and have you add to your already impressive resumes. No, we brought you here to discover the best in yourselves. Find people here, find ideas here that will help you find your passions, that will help you find out what really matters to you. If you do this, I can assure you that the rest will take care of itself." And he was right.
Having only been at Duke for one semester, I've already found people and ideas that have helped me to further develop my true passions. Through the B.N. Scholar program, through the courses that I'm taking, through the new people that I meet each week, and through the friendships I've already made that I know will last a lifetime, I am discovering who I am through the opportunities I have at Duke University. I have been accepted into the Baldwin Scholars Program along with 18 other unique and inspiring women from the class of 2013 and together we are an unstoppable team of women leaders at Duke. The B.N. Duke Scholar Program surrounds me with other compelling individuals that offer interesting and unique perspectives so that as a group we may have diverse opinions but one common underlying interest in most everything we do: service. Iâ€™ve become an active member of Dukeâ€™s Campus Crusade for Christ and through this ministry I have been able to connect and spend time with fellow believers in the Christian faith on Dukeâ€™s campus. I also thoroughly enjoy rehearsing and performing with one of Dukeâ€™s many dance groups called On Tap. At Duke Iâ€™m realizing that as I'm presented with so many options to explore the things that interest me, I'm having a hard time figuring out how I'm going to fit in all in during the next three years!
Choosing to come to Duke and be a B.N. Duke Scholar had everything to do with choosing the corner where the people would support us the most zealously, where we could explode in pursuit of our passions, and where opportunities were not scarce. Stesha Doku Charlotte, NC
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