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Following graduation, Benjamin N. Duke Scholars venture out into the world on different paths, taking with them the knowledge, experience, and insight gained from four years at Duke. Some move directly into employment in the non-profit or for-profit arena, others take the next step towards advanced degrees, several are awarded fellowships or post-graduate awards, and a few embark on their own entrepreneurial adventure. Some B.N. Duke Scholars have been winners of Fulbright and Truman Scholarships. No matter what path they take, they apply the same passion, commitment to social justice, and sense of civic responsibility and community that made them BNs in the first place. No matter how far away their paths take them or how much time passes by, they will always be connected to Duke and to the Carolinas, thanks to the vision and funding of The Duke Endowment. We take pride in their accomplishments and look forward to celebrating all that the future holds for them.
Spotlight on an Alum
Meet Rachel Rosenthal, B. N. Duke Class of 2003, a native of Greensboro, NC, who is currently living in Washington, D.C. and working as an attorney. Her major at Duke was Program II: Jewish Text and Tradition: Ethical Implications in Contemporary Society.
Looking back on her years at Duke, Rachel fondly remembers playing alto saxophone in the Wind Symphony, becoming actively involved in the Freeman Center for Jewish Life/Hillel, and living in the Women’s Studies Dorm. She also mentions the Duke in Israel Program as one of her favorite memories. There she studied with Professors Carol & Eric Meyers and worked at an archaeology site in Sepphoris. “It was a great summer and I learned a lot about biblical archaeology and living in Israel.”
After completing her undergraduate education at Duke, Rachel entered Columbia Law School. Maintaining her interest and activities in the local Jewish community, she worked part-time at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Rare Book Room while she was in law school. She graduated from Columbia University in 2006 and then went to work for a large corporate law firm for three and a half years.
Rachel enjoys her current position as an environmental lawyer in the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Environment at the United States Department of Energy. She sees her biggest challenge in “bringing everyone on board to move forward on projects,” as “people come to environmental challenges from different perspectives” and building consensus is necessary in order to facilitate project completion. She credits the B.N. program as an opportunity that gave her insight into the challenges she now faces. “As a B.N., I learned about the socioeconomic challenges facing the Carolinas and particularly about the connections between those challenges, for example, how difficulties in the education of children impact the economy. Today, I use this 360 degree perspective in my work when I evaluate the connections between the challenges facing my clients and what I learn to solve those clients’ problems.”
Continuing her involvement in the Jewish community in Washington, D.C., Rachel belongs to two groups for Hebrew speakers. In addition, she reviews books for the Jewish Book Council, which is based in New York City. For recreation, she goes hiking with friends, volunteers with Girl Scouts, and travels to national parks for vacation, including Yellowstone this summer.
Rachel Rosenthal truly embodies the B.N. Duke Scholarship Program’s core values of community, empathy, intentionality, and imagination. “I find working for the government particularly rewarding because I know that I am serving the American public and having an impact on people’s lives. I am proud to be using the education I received at Duke as a B.N. Duke Scholar, in combination with my law degree, to give back to the country.”