Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC Highschool: Carrboro High School Major: Asian/Middle East Studies w/ concentration in Arabic
I never imagined that I would be a Duke student. I wonâ€™t be modest and say that I never considered Duke because I thought I would never get in. But it wasnâ€™t that I was so confident in my abilities that I thought I was guaranteed admission, but rather that I was so set on going to college outside of my home state of North Carolina that I never truly considered the possibility of attending Duke. I applied to Duke for all of the standard reasons: great reputation, world-class academics, beautiful campus, incredible opportunities, but mostly because my parents insisted, convinced that it would be the perfect school for me if only it werenâ€™t twenty minutes from my house.
When I was notified that I was a finalist for the B.N. Duke Scholarship, I was completely shocked, partly because I wasnâ€™t aware that Duke offered merit scholarships, but even more so because it made attending Duke a real possibility. Before finalist weekend I was nervous, like most of the other finalists. But my worries were probably different from those of the other prospective students â€“ rather than being concerned about being judged, going through an interview process, or not getting the scholarship, I was worried that I would get the scholarship. Looking back, this thought process was completely irrational (not to mention that I was wildly overconfident and borderline delusional), but at the time I was worried that being offered the B.N. would obligate me to attend Duke.
Visiting Duke and attending finalist weekend changed my attitude completely. I left the weekend feeling lucky to have met so many amazing, passionate, and talented people, and honored to have been considered for such an incredible opportunity. At the same time, I had nagging feelings of doubt â€“ hubris is often a heroâ€™s downfall. Would my overconfidence and worries that I would be â€śforcedâ€ť to attend Duke bring me karmic revenge and prevent me from being offered the scholarship?
Fortunately, the fates (and more importantly, Don and Minda) were willing to overlook my lifelong lapse in judgment and dismissal of Duke, and offered me the scholarship. I donâ€™t know what it was â€“ I felt like my accomplishments paled in comparison to those of the other incredible finalists, but I like to think it was my â€śspunk,â€ť as Don likes to call it. Whatever it was, all of my lingering doubts about Duke were erased and I was proud to plaster a Duke bumper sticker on my car and stock up on all the Duke apparel I had scoffed at for years (as a Chapel Hill resident, making fun of Duke was a mandatory part of my childhood).
Life has continued to surprise me since Iâ€™ve arrived at Duke. Among the many things Iâ€™ve experienced here that I never would have imagined? Iâ€™m currently camping out in Krzyzewskiville to earn tickets to the famous Duke â€“ UNC game (probably the highest form of blasphemy for a Chapel Hill resident) â€“ and Iâ€™ve tweeted about it. Iâ€™m learning to speak Arabic and am considering a major in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Iâ€™ve graffitied a bridge on Campus Drive for my friendâ€™s birthday. Iâ€™m a Duke tour guide, and Iâ€™ve learned all sorts of interesting facts about our school â€“ my personal favorite is that the Lemur Center has the largest concentration of lemurs outside of Madagascar.
Most importantly, Iâ€™ve developed amazing relationships at Duke, and within the B.N. family. My roommate (and fellow B.N.) is truly an incredible person and I feel so lucky to not only have lived with her, but to know that weâ€™ll always be part of the B.N. family. I love that I have so many friends that keep me constantly laughing, but also are there for a late night heart-to-heart or a good cry session. I love that I am constantly surrounded by my favorite people and I love knowing that I can just walk up the stairs or down the hall to find my best friends. I love my sisters in Delta Delta Delta, who are always there for support or just a good time. And of course, what brought me to Duke â€“ the B.N. scholars. All of the scholars should be intimidating â€“ they are all unbelievably intelligent, talented, and motivated â€“ but their amazing personalities and humility have led me to count them among my most important friendships.
Itâ€™s hard to imagine the girl who, less than a year ago, fretted about being offered a scholarship to Duke because she was so set on leaving North Carolina. Duke, and especially the B.N. Duke Scholarship, have presented me with more opportunities and incredible experiences than I could ever imagine and I am so grateful that the B.N. Duke program saw something in me that I didnâ€™t â€“ that Duke and I are a great match. North Carolina has always been my home, and I have all of my family here â€“ at Duke, in Chapel Hill, and in Morrisville.
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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