Meet The Benjamin N. Duke Scholars
Kristen Larson
Kristen Larson
Kristen Larson
Benjamin N. Duke Scholar 2017
Hometown: Goldsboro, NC
Highschool: NC School of Science & Mathematics
Major: Biology, Global Health

Kristen's Bio

In my BN Duke supplement essays, I wrote: “…common experiences bind people together who otherwise might have little in common, fostering community where previously there was none.” As I sit in our cabin in Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown, SC, I couldn’t possibly feel that this statement could be more accurate than it is now.

Our class is as diverse and unpredictable as the North Carolinian weather.

We had community before we came here, but none of us knew how much it could grow. We have spent a great part of the summer learning each other’s backgrounds, emotional triggers, and love languages. We have argued, collaborated, angered, and cheered each other on in the biggest game of speed friending and character development I have participated in my life.

Although we’ve only been living together for ten weeks, I feel as though I have known these friends for years.

I am so glad that I joined the B.N. community.

Flashback to the college process during late high school: I had tempered my hopes for receiving a scholarship to college in the aftermath of a challenging, but rewarding experience at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

I was thankful for what I had already received—an excellent, STEM-based high school education paid for by the state of North Carolina, and a supportive, loving family.

During my time there, I maintained a sense of awe at the amazing opportunity that I had received, seeking service opportunities to give back as a small expression of thanks for what I had been given.

Gratitude became a theme that spring.

I fell in love with the B.N. Duke and Duke University during scholarship weekend because the B.N.s exhibited the empathy, community, and intentionality that I seek in friends. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had found the place where I belonged.

I was right.

Smaller communities exist inside and outside of Duke, maintaining a visible, ever-shifting dialogue on campus. As a member of the Honor Council, I work with others to help facilitate university-wide discussions on ethics and the Duke Community Standard. As a Baldwin Scholar, I seek to dispel gender stereotypes and encourage other women around me. As a B.N. Duke scholar, I serve as a representative of the Carolinas and an advocate for the community that exists beyond the East Campus wall.

This Christmas, my Chorale friends and I welcomed children up the aisles of the Chapel as we sang the Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still,” with the Durham community filling the pews. For admission to our concert, we took up a food donation that overflowed the transepts of the Chapel! There was a sense of gratitude and warmth that made the music even more beautiful and intimate. Even though the Duke Chorale is rigorous group of talented singers, which I am privileged to be a part of, they are also a community of friends. We share a deep love for vocal music that allows us to enrich the Duke and Durham community.

Despite recent allegations that frame Duke as the “infamously worst college for women,” I see the social sphere here in an entirely different light. This semester, my Baldwin sisters and I are exploring what it means to be a woman at Duke. As women, we are challenging ourselves to speak up and ask for things—even if those requests lead to rejection (Some activities I have tried include taking pictures with strangers, asking peers I don’t know out to dinner, and seeking out greater academic opportunities). My Baldwin family has helped me embrace my own definition of empowerment.

Reflecting on my year thus far, the communities that have welcomed me have been integral in my transition into college life. The solidarity I have felt during my transition into college is due in large part to my B.N. family, and the other families I have met along the way.


Recent Posts by Kristen:

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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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