B.N. Duke Scholar Blogs

Christmas 2013 Update

Written by: on March 5th, 2015

Christmas 2013 Update

Wow. I’ve got three semesters at Duke under my belt, and five more to go. I’ve learned more in the past three semesters – both academically and personally – than I have in my whole 18 years before Duke, and I credit my friends in the BN family, and the whole BN community for much of that learning. There’s more that I want to say than I could fit here, so I’ll just share some of the highlights:

Being a Resident Assistant (RA). Inspired by my freshman-year RA, I applied for and received the RA position. I began this semester wanting to be intentionally available to my 22 residents, to grow into more gracefully receive interruptions, and to practice life in community. I ended the semester with deep relationships, having logged hours in conversation on topics ranging from emotional struggles to dining hall food struggles to faith struggles and triumphs, and with several attempts to set boundaries around my time (holding a 24/7 “open door policy”, I’ve found, means very little sleep).

As a still-damp-under-the-ears, starry-eyed freshman last year, I could never have seen myself being an RA. Now, as a weathered and wise sophomore, I couldn’t see myself doing anything different. I have received abundant confirmation that God has intentionally placed me in my dorm and in the RA position.

Being the Co-Coordinator for the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF). I got involved with CEF last year and have stayed immersed since then. With CEF, Duke students visit transitional homes around Durham and work the residents there, focusing on savings, financial literacy, employment, and housing.

Anne (the other Co-Coordinator) and I took over the position from two CEF veterans (one of whom is a BN – Priyang Shah!). We’ve had to navigate our share of roadblocks (working with people’s finances is hard!!!), but we’ve been encouraged by CEF’s growth. Thanks to our dynamic Admin Team, we received two big grants this semester – one with CFED and one with Dan Ariely – and revamped both our Savings program and financial literacy classes.

Major: Romance Studies – the science of love and relationships…

…just kidding. With Romance Studies, I pick two Romance languages, study them in-depth, live in countries where they’re spoken, and craft a culminating project. I have chosen Spanish and Haitian Kreyòl.

To fulfill the abroad requirements for the major, I plan to spend this summer living and working in Haiti (as my BN International Summer of Service) and the fall studying in a Spanish-speaking country. As of today, I do not have a plan for either. Prayers and advice to that end are much appreciated!

Minor: Statistics.

We humans are storing more and more data as technology advances. Whether I end up working in the non-profit sector or the business world (or a combination), I’ll be able to use my knowledge of statistics to wade through, make sense of, and use all these data.

My Carolina Summer of Service Experience

The 13 other BNs and I spent 10 weeks of last summer living and working in Conway, SC, a coastal town 15 minutes outside of Myrtle Beach. We were sent down to Conway in partnership with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission to further their mission: to preserve and protect, educate, and promote the economic development of the Gullah Geechee people. I worked in two jobs while I was in Conway:

1) Farm apprentice on Conway’s “living history” farm. where I learned how to plow with a mule, “tie” tobacco, and trap a vagabond chicken. I also enjoyed cooking and eating fresh veggies from the farm every night for dinner.

2) Intern at Ultimate Gullah, a Gullah-heritage shop in downtown Conway. There, Zack Fowler and I created a heritage tourism guide detailing the Gullah Geechee sites of the South Carolina coast. If there was a Gullah restaurant in SC’s Grand Strand, we ate there, if there was a museum, we visited, if there was a Gullah historian, we interviewed her. We compiled all our information into the final product, which we called The Gullah Grand Strand. You can view the online version of the guide at this link:



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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