Hometown: Cary, NC Highschool: Athens Drive High School Major: Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Do you believe in fate? I think I do.
I can honestly say that I was born and raised as an ardent duke fan. For my first Halloween I was dressed as a duke cheerleader. As a child, I was dragged to Duke Reunions for my dad who is an alumnus. My family would go on long walks in the Duke Gardens with my grandmother, and after she passed away we would go to the gardens to visit her commemorative bench. In high school, I was the one to drag my parents to one Duke event after another. If you asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, my answer seemed to change with the weather. But if you asked me where I wanted to go to college there was always only one answer: Duke.
Years passed and as I grew, I became more self-aware of strengths and my interests. In the classroom "science time" was my favorite part of the day. I learned best with the hands on experiments, even if they were just growing a bean in a plastic bag taped to the window. Outside the classroom, there was something I loved even more: nature. My family vacations were filled with trips to national parks and my summers were spent at camps in the North Carolina Mountains. I was a â€˜Nature Nymphâ€™ at a local nature preserve and went to classes there until I aged out. Afterwards, I volunteered the rest of my summers to help teach the same classes I attended when I was 4 years old. The natural environment inspired and interested me so much that I never thought of learning about it as work. I wanted to read and hear as much as I could! The idea that I could turn my interest in the natural environment and its preservation into a career didnâ€™t dawn on me until I reached high school and realized I only had 4 years to decide.
High school was also the time that my lifelong love of Duke as a concept developed into an understanding of it as a university. It wasnâ€™t just an intimidating mascot and a perfectly dark shade of blue. Duke was a place for opportunities, a place to follow your dreams, and a place to make them into reality. After my first official tour on Dukeâ€™s campus, I couldnâ€™t imagine a better fit. Based on my strengths in math and science I decided to be an engineer, but based on my passion, I decided to focus in the research and development of clean energy. Although the engineering program is small, its connection with the Trinity College of Arts and Science would give me a broader perspective that only a liberal arts school could provide. In addition, Dukeâ€™s ranking as a top ten research university would give me unbelievable opportunities to be a part of some of the most outstanding research in the world. It was perfect, but I do have to admit I was frightened by the admissions statistics. How could a small girl like me from a public high school even get in? But I wrote my essays, crossed my fingers, and pressed [Submit]. Then I continued to cross my fingers for three agonizing months.
The Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship has given me more than I had ever hoped for. It gives me the opportunity to fulfill quite a few of my life-long dreams and make new ones including; to be surrounded by intelligent, motivated, passionate, and inspiring individuals; and to make my own positive difference in the world. Through this program I have met some truly amazing people who will not only change the world in their own way, but will also be my life-long friends. Now I can say I truly canâ€™t imagine myself anywhere else and am so honored to be a part of this amazing community.
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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