With the end nigh, I find myself taking the long way home, unnecessarily driving or more accurately crawling up Chapel Drive. Soaking it up as it were. Enjoying the flood of years past washing to the front of my mind.
I’m not alone. Walking to blue zone yesterday, I ran into a block of my friends leaving just having paid tribute to Tailgate with key and can. They were strolling through the Indiana limestone arches visiting their favorite spots on campus. Their next stop: Bella Union, a place that makes living in Edens infinitely better (Few can keep Alpine).
For me, Bella is central to sophomore year. Early morning coffee, afternoon tea, late night espresso. It met all my stimulant-related needs. It was my go to for half-heartedly doing work. So naturally I spent most of my “study” time on that fourth floor of the tower. And by most I mean nearly all. I used the abundant life and foot traffic in Bella to procrastinate until closing. Midnight didn’t signify the start of an intense productivity, however. It meant the beginnings of virtual distraction and that my laptop stayed plugged in ‘til the wee hours of the morning.
Every time I went home during college my neighbor told me to find the balance. That is, find the healthy medium between being social and studious. Maybe I did or maybe I just tell myself that to not be upset that I stayed up until six in the morning more times than I care to remember. Even if I am lying to myself to live a synthetic happiness, my current reflection points to a concrete benefit from the “balance” I chose at Duke, which gives me solace.
While sitting in Bella at four in the morning, long after close, I couldn’t focus on my work. The mind wanders for want of diversion from exhaustion and misery. I questioned my choices that brought me exhaustion and blood shot eyes. Why hadn’t I done my work earlier? I usually realized or at least told myself it was because I was enjoying my life – talking to friends and trolling around. Of course I would then imagine the future years here and beyond. Going abroad, coming back, opening a bagel shop. The mind wanders without sleep. Though I often hated myself for being up so late, I found great happiness in my projected possibilities and reflections of the has-beens.
So I confess that my best thinking happened not in class or with my nose in the books but while procrastinating. Think about the conversations, the real talk, you’ve had with people long since the sun’s set. That’s where I learned the most in my time here. 4am in Bella – my greatest thinking happened while on the edge of dreaming.
Last week at WNS a fellow senior shared with me a confession of her own. She told her mother that she’s moving to Australia without any direction. But hey, minimum wage is $19/hr. She’ll be fine. Yet I could hear a level of guilt in her voice telling me that she thought her parents would be upset for “throwing away” her expensive schooling. She told them that she’s grateful for their sacrifice and that she will use this amazing education after she figures things out down under. If you ask me, she’s wrong. In uprooting, she is putting that education to use right now, more so than most of us. What is the point of pulling all-nighters writing papers if we can’t make that intellectual dexterity work for us?
My friend’s moving to have an extended 4am procrastination session of self-discovery. She is taking an extended ride up Chapel Drive. She is going to live on the edge of dreaming.
Please see the attached letter from the 2013-2014 Executive Board.
The Inter-‐Greek Council (IGC) is proud to announce the official change of its council name and logo (coming soon) to that of the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). The decision was made by unanimous vote from the eight constituent members of the MGC to better reflect the diverse nature of our component chapters and to better align ourselves with peer institutions. Universities with such a large and diverse Greek life as Duke’s, and the chapter members that we are fortunate to have, normally operate under the title of MGC. The term IGC is reserved for the umbrella organization that facilitates cross-‐council interactions. Thus, the move was determined in part by the need to better represent our function and relationship to other councils and the administration here on campus.
However, while the council caters to cultural interests, it is not culturally exclusive. Our chapters attract members from across the demographic spectrum, resulting in groups that may draw up to 50% of membership from outside the historical demographic of that fraternity or sorority. Together, the eight chapters of MGC constitute around 12 percent of total Greek life on campus, and maintain a strong campus through the innovative and broad reaching programming of the following groups:
-‐alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority, Inc. -‐Delta Sigma Iota Fraternity, Inc. -‐Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. -‐Lambda Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Inc. -‐Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. -‐Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. -‐Pi Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc. -‐Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.
In recent years the MGC has continued to expand upon its ideals, showcase the diversity of its members, and increase cross-‐council connections though annual events like the Blaze the Stage Stroll Show—which brought over 30 chapters from across the four councils together in song and rhythm for a night of performance and celebration. In addition the MGC/NPHC Carnival has become the most well attended event at Duke’s First Big Weekend, reaching nearly 1,000 new students and upperclassmen as of Fall 2012.
Internally, the MGC has begun council-‐wide philanthropy endeavors in 2013 to better help our community and university, and we have just recently instituted mandatory PACT training for new members and exec boards in an effort to spearhead the cultural changes needed on campus for a more inclusive and safe student experience.
Under our new name and logo, the Multicultural Greek Council looks forward to continuing and expanding upon our relationships with the National Pan-‐Hellenic Council, the Inter-‐Fraternity Council, and the Panhellenic Association in the years to come.
I just came back from NYC after taking part in a DukeForward event (ie, stood there and looked pretty). I’m surprised they let me go considering the extremely critical lens I see this institution through. Anyway, it was this big shebang that came with a great promotion video. Aerial shots of campus zoomed in to observe the innovative happenings of three students. The speaker’s voice boomed with pride as the viewer suddenly felt like maybe Duke could be Hogwarts after all. Magic was happening. Broadhead followed the video by talking about how amazing Duke is, per usual. I’m not here to debunk this claim. This school has grown into an impressive institution. However, while watching these three students invent things and walk dramatically, I could not help but feel like my Duke experience was not captured in the 5 minutes of video. Because college is less like dramatic walks towards cameras, and more like dramatic walks of shame passed tour groups on Saturday mornings.
In this video, I saw no students wandering campus in pajamas, no x’s on hands, no frowns, no failures. All of the things that I’ll remember most about this campus, the life changing revelations, the tears, the stress, were overlooked. Now, tears won’t raise you a couple of billion dollars, which was the whole purpose of the shindig. But I just felt that the real personal growth of college was valued much less than the things that could be sold, the tangible accomplishments.
At the end of the event, as I brainstormed what to write for this piece, I finally arrived at the question that encompassed all of my discomfort with the promotional video as well as Broadhead’s speech. And it was: How do you own and/or sell chaos without seeming inferior? Broadhead talked a lot about the Duke experience. But what if my Duke experience was confusing? What if I failed compared to Duke standards? I couldn’t help but think of how the writer is valued within a society that tries to overcompensate. Questionable achievements meaning more than honest failures. I don’t know how to be without my failures, to write without them. I don’t know how to brag. And I feel uncomfortable admitting that here. I don’t know how to look back without seeing pain. I hope this is ok. I hope it is ok to leave this place with a different viewpoint of campus that will still be appreciated and heard.
As I graduate from Duke University, I want everyone to know that I do not have a job. I have no plan. I stumbled through this place with mediocre grades, depression and a cigarette habit that has gotten worse since high school. I have been broke for a good majority of the four years. I had a core group of friends but lost them. I’ve been in love three times and have had my heart broken all three times. I have been used. I have been stepped on. I have been unappreciated. I haven’t appreciated myself. I’ve smiled. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve wanted to quit. Transfer to a college in the city. Through all of this though, I’ve grown and I’ve learned and I’d like to think if I’d went to NYU, I would have figured all of this out and maybe been happier along the way. But I think my Duke experience was necessary for me to be the person I am today. Nowhere near perfect, nowhere near figured out, and with little to show except some blogs I got the courage to write my senior year. And I hope this is enough. I hope this still sells Duke to people, my Duke experience. Because I wouldn’t have been the same without those billions of dollars people and programs like DukeForward try to earn each year. Without my financial aid, I wouldn’t be one of the first people in my family to graduate from an elite institution and no matter how much I cringe when I think back on these years, that fact alone is enough to make me smile. So au revoir sweet Duke. You are the lover I never intended to love but here I am heartbroken nonetheless. You dirty bastard, you.
Oh and shameless plug, if you’ve read my like 5 blogs this year and enjoyed them and want to see me become a real writer or struggle to become a real writer, or read my drunken ramblings or haikus or shitty poetry, follow me on twitter. It’s the cool thing to do @DejaJontelle. Peace, love and hair grease. Besitos Dukies. :-*
Another year draws to a close on Duke’s campus. Campus life gets a little calmer as the students leave and we all begin our planning for next year. The parental role, however, never seems to be calm as the summer begins with the family. In many ways our role at the Wellness Center on campus is similar to being the parent away from home. We try to convey to students safe and healthy messages like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFAPWJeeOgs. We ask students to take care of themselves, get rest, eat nutritiously, don’t drink too much and be safe. The challenge we face during the summer months is to reach the students while they are potentially in different cities, on Duke Engage, in internships or at home. Students are adjusting and settling in to life off of campus and to the rules that may be different from the ones in the dorm.
So as life on campus gets a little quieter and life at home potentially gets a little busier I want to give some tips to think about and/or discuss with your student over this summer regarding choices he/she has been faced with during the past year. Specifically I am thinking about choices around substance use, but this can apply to any difficult health topic.
Listen: Students tend to be cautious speaking about alcohol and the drinking culture in which they may be involved. It must be difficult to hear the conflicting messages about how risky alcohol use is and to witness students having fun by drinking enough alcohol to get drunk. On the one hand the students are told about the risks of alcohol use by adults and on the other hand they watch their friends have fun while drinking. Students will defend the “fun” part of drinking, when an adult only focuses on the risks because they want us to see that this is not a right or wrong situation. This is complex. The only way that I will have an impact with students on a topic of alcohol use is to give them enough room to speak what they believe to be true. Students see what their friends are doing and they know what they like about drinking, but they will only admit the problem side of drinking if the adult admits that there is also a positive side. Students want to know that I see there are two sides to this issue. This is complex for them and if I simplify it to being only a right or wrong issue then I will get tuned out.
Ask questions about what they have seen and how they have handled the situations they may have been faced with regarding alcohol. I can give you some questions in case you are fresh out of ideas: Do they drink? How do they figure out how much to drink? What role does alcohol play in college life? What do they like about drinking? Have they been in situations that they were not OK about? Do they think there are potential risks (what are they)?
I have found that the actual drinking is not the main point to be addressed. The more concerning feature is what is driving the drinking, why is it being done? What does the student hope to gain from drinking? Social connection is usually number one. Are they connecting to others when drinking? Students experience being drunk as fun (this is usually in the beginning part of the drunken state). When drunk; students often are laughing more, less self-conscious and dancing and they think they have built memories with friends during these times. The problem is that if they are drinking to intoxication then they are building a relationship with the alcohol not the friends they are with. How will their drinking help them to achieve their goals? Some students are adamant that the drinking is helping them to have a large amount of friends. With students who feel this way I talk about how they define friendship. What are the necessary elements and how do they know that they are close to a person? These are the best conversations and really help students connect and begin to pay attention. The beauty of this approach I have found is that these are the core issues the students wrestle with in their social lives. When students verbalize their thoughts it forces them to think deeper about their choices and how they are moving toward or away from their goals. Sometimes during this conversation students will start to see that they define friendship one way and experience people through drinking in a different way. The drinking experience with friends is not always a positive experience, but they only recognize this when they take a moment to reflect on all aspects of the drinking event. Once you have opened their eyes through the conversation, even if they choose to drink again, it will take some of the allure and mystic of drinking away.
Give feedback not advice. I have found that students will respond with an eye roll and glazed look if I am giving advice. A student talking about drinking will reference their feelings when talking about their story. If I can identify a feeling associated with what the student is talking about then I can reflect on my own experiences when I may have dealt with that feeling or addressed it in the past. In this manner I can give the student an idea of how to deal with a situation without telling them what to do. The difference between feedback vs advice is subtle, but powerful.
Although this article has been about listening and reflecting on your students experiences, don’t forget to acknowledge and enjoy the fact your child completed a year at Duke. Congratulations! Enjoy the summer.
Senioritis, the urban dictionary defines this crippling disease as one that strikes 2nd semester seniors, resulting in laziness, a lack of studying, and generally a dismissive attitude. The only cure for senioritis is graduation! For the past few weeks, I’ve been slowing, showing symptoms of this terrible epidemic. As the end of the year roles around, and I and my fellow seniors begin to make plans for after graduation, the mere idea that we are just weeks from graduation has begun to set in.
For the longest time, I lived in a state of denial. Not wanting to admit that on May 12th I would no longer be occupying my little dorm on East Campus, and would be moving to NYC for law school. In many ways my senioritis was not solely a symptom of no longer caring about my studies at Duke, but a way to avoid the conclusion of the school year. However, with LDOC just around the corner it’s safe to say that denial no longer works and I must approach my last few days at Duke head on.
I will miss Duke immensely. The city of Durham, the intensity of Cameron Crazies and Cameron on a game night, Jazz at the Mary Lou and Thursday at the Dillo, my amazing friends and all my super smart professors, long crazy nights at Perkins, and even these creepy inch-worms that hang all across campus. Undergrad has been great and not many people can say that. I didn’t want this year to end as I’ve been oddly nervous about leaving, but I am ready for new challenges, new people, and a new city. I can’t wait to see the amazing things my peers do upon graduation, and though my senioritis symptoms still subsist, I’m ready to embrace the little time I have left as an undergraduate student at Duke.
As I enter my last week of classes, I can’t help but to think back freshman convocation in the Chapel. Sitting in those brown wooden pews I listened to President Broadhead tell me and my peers about how amazing our classmates are and questioned why the heck we were sitting among them. I still thank clerical error in the Admissions Office. Anyway, many of us had incredible stories and accomplishments that seemed to define us. Olympians, authors, successful entrepreneurs. I shrank into my seat trying to figure out what I could say about me. I could only muster seemingly trivial experiences from high school.
In early March of this year, however, I found my answer. Permit me a short anecdote. I was on a job interview when the recruiter asked me one final question to be answered in Spanish. “Why did I choose to go to Duke?” I froze. Not because I couldn’t articulate myself in Spanish but because my mind flooded with thoughts on everything that I’ve experienced since coming to college – living in Belfast working on a Duke Engage Project, watching us win a national basketball championship in Cameron Indoor, rushing the football field after we beat Carolina, all nighters in Perkins, late night Cook Out runs, dancing salsa at Cuban Revolution on Thursdays, hearing John Legend belt it out in Page, studying in Madrid and traveling around Europe, Cruising with 200 members of the senior class on spring break, ditching class to go to the gardens when it was 80 degrees in February, section parties, Tailgate with a capital T.
So much has happened since stepping foot onto East, I couldn’t think of an honest answer. After I left, I realized I could have just told him I picked Duke for basketball and the weather. Oh well. Next time I’ll remember to lie.
The inundation of memories reminded me of sitting in that pew as freshman thinking on experiences that were momentous for me. Though I may not have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, I had a collection of small instances that impacted my life, which isn’t something I was conscious of at the time.
In the 18 years leading up to college, it is made to seem like the pinnacle of our education. It will be that final step that instills in us the skills necessary to succeed in life. The four years at Duke has taught me that a lot of that is crap. We stress about finals or papers, making them out to be a life or death situation. If your thesis doesn’t receive distinction, you’ll survive and graduate.
The hyper academic focus the administration is trying to adopt for the students does us a disservice. Had I wanted a school that forces you into the books day and night, I would have chosen the Ivy League. But guess what. Duke is not an Ivy League. College isn’t about putting my nose to the grind. It is about experiences, which is something Duke used to be cognizant of and is now losing. Everything I just mentioned are memories that I carry with me and collectively define my character. Notice how few are actually academic.
The past four years have changed our lives because of the things we’ve lived. College gave us experiences that supposedly help determine our spirit. We are not static now, however. The next four years and the four after that will also transform us. Academics have and may play a part in that, but it is important to see and do more. The parties in blue zone, late night chats with your friend, and finding culinary gems are likely to be more impactful.
So live every day like it’s college, experience, and change.
Omelette you know about our great end of the semester event! We bacon you to come and join us for an eggcellent brunch. Doughnut miss this opportunity to come to the Center for LGBT Life one last time. Orange you excited to join us? You butter be!
The Student Health Fee for Spring Semester 2013 EXPIRES at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 17th. This means that all Duke students who have paid the Spring Fee can continue to use the Student Health Center (SHC) through May 17th. Depending on your status at Duke, there are different rules that apply after that date. If you are:
Graduating on May 12th – After May 17th, you can no longer be seen as a patient at the SHC. You must find another source for health care. The only exception to this is if your SHC provider requests that you follow-up for a condition for which you were seen prior to May 17th.
Taking summer classes at Duke – Students who are taking summer classes pay the Summer Health Fee each term.
Summer Term I May 15 – June 27 $106.00
Summer Term II July 1 – August 11 $106.00
Summer Term I and II May 15 – August 11 $212.00
If you are taking classes for the first term or both terms, you can continue to use the SHC uninterrupted. If you are taking classes during the second term only, you must elect to pay the first term health fee to be allowed to use the SHC between May 17th and the start of the second summer term. Likewise, if you are only taking classes during the first term, you must elect to pay the second term health fee to continue to use the SHC throughout the whole summer.
Not taking classes, but staying in the area – Students who will return to Duke for Fall Semester but are not taking summer classes can elect to pay the Summer Health Fee, utilizing the SHC uninterrupted between Spring and Fall Semesters.
Prescriptions can be renewed at the discretion of the prescribing provider for up to 30 days after graduation (e.g. June 12, 2013). After June 12th, only returning students can have prescriptions written or phoned in by SHC providers.
Students may request that copies of their records be forwarded to other providers. Appropriate release will be required. For more information, visit our website: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/studenthealth, click on Forms & Policies and look under the “Clinical Forms” section. Alternatively, you may call 681-WELL (681-9355) and press menu option 6.
Contributed by Doris Iarovici, MD, parent of a college student
Apr 2210:14 am
Life with a college student in the family is full of change, but folding your child back into the family for the long summer break can be a surprisingly challenging transition. Whether they come home for the entire summer, or for a few weeks before an internship or travel abroad experience, or whether the family and student vacation together, things likely will not be as they were. As a college counseling center psychiatrist I’ve talked with many parents of students who encountered difficulties about the best ways to support their child when he or she came home, but as the mother now of a college-aged child myself, I see first-hand that all students and families must navigate new roles and patterns of communication if we’re to make the most of the times we get to spend together.
Most of us parents have stayed in place this past year while our son or daughter has been in college—whether for their first year, or for their last. For most of us, life has been relatively unchanged: same house, job, family configuration. But our child has experienced massive change and growth. Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett describes the time between ages 18 and 25 as “emerging adulthood,” a developmental stage which differs from both adolescence and adulthood. It exists mainly in industrialized nations where people delay employment and child-bearing, and is characterized by unprecedented change and role exploration. Your son or daughter has experienced significant residential changes, variability in friendships, romances, and other relationships, and new expectations regarding self-sufficiency. They’ve encountered worldviews that may drastically differ from the ones with which they were raised. They’ve made choices regarding how they structure their time, whether—and how—they are sexually active, whether and how much they use alcohol and other drugs, who their closest friends and most admired role models are, and what academic fields most interest them. Whether they’ve had to use counseling services or not, every one of them has experienced difficult or even overwhelming times this past year, as well as moments of great joy and triumph.
So how do we re-engage with our emerging adult across this difference of experience?
It’s helpful to remember that in surveys asking whether they feel “adult,” most college students answer “in some ways yes, in some ways no.” This “in-between-ness” characterizes the behaviors we see in our child when they return. But if we, as parents, treat them as we did when they were in high school, we’ll encounter major conflicts. One study of parenting styles and outcomes in emerging adults found that for both mothers and fathers, authoritative parenting—a combination of warmth/responsiveness, valuing autonomy, and clearly stated expectations—led to the best outcome: a healthy sense of self-worth in the child and a strong, positive parent-child relationship. Parenting that used punishment, verbal hostility, high control, or, conversely, extreme indulgence, led to depression and anxiety in the offspring and a poor parent-child relationship. (Nelson et. al., 2011).
Stay open and curious. Talk and listen! Your child has likely learned some amazing things and met fascinating people. Don’t just ask about their grades, but be interested in how classes went. Ask about what they learned, what they enjoyed, where they struggled. Students at Duke and other highly selective colleges fear seeming less than perfect; show interest in their wellbeing and their challenges as well as their successes. Remember that now is the time to collaborate rather than dictate; focus on maintaining your relationship, gradually reduce the amount of control you exert, and draw up new boundaries which acknowledge their increasing autonomy.
Emerging adults are trying on new roles regarding work, love, and worldview both as preparation for their consolidated adult identity, but also sometimes just for experimentation’s sake. For example, in the romantic realm, they may be both starting to think about life partners, and also experimenting with romance and sex via “hook-ups.” Similarly, not all summer experiences lead to an ultimate career path. It’s best to not overreact to any particular new path a student is taking, because likely it will change again soon. That doesn’t mean we can’t voice our concerns as parents when these arise—but to be heard, we must do this in dialogue, not in edicts. Edicts backfire, either in the moment with you, or later, when the student is again on his own.
Let them sleep, especially when they first get home, but then feel free to talk about their goals beyond just sleep for their time off. Plan with them, not for them. Focus on the present moment, and enjoy your time together. And if you do see signs of more significant problems: persistent low mood or continued oversleeping, significant weight loss, problematic substance use, or big changes in personality—please encourage them to get help. Feel free to consult with us at CAPS should you be unsure how to best do that.
--Doris Iarovici, MD Psychiatrist, Counseling and Psychological Services
Several recent incidents on Central Campus have raised concerns among students and parents about security. While Duke, including Central Campus, has a very low crime rate, we want to assure you that every incident gets our full attention. Student safety and well-being is our highest priority.
Central Campus has become a vibrant community and a popular gathering place for many at Duke. We introduced the house system this year, which afforded sororities the opportunity to live together for the first time in Central Campus apartments. Sophomores and other living groups were also added to the mix, together bringing a new level of student enthusiasm to Central.
In anticipation of increased activity on Central Campus, Residence Life and Duke University Police enacted enhanced security plans during the academic year, including:
• Increased presence of campus police and security auto and foot patrols assigned to Central Campus • Staffing at Anderson and Alexander bus stops for students who want a walking escort • Outdoor lighting improvements • Continued monitoring of “blue light” security phones
Discussions for further improvements continue. In the coming days, DUPD and Residence Life staff will be visiting a number of apartments to offer crime prevention tips and on-the-spot safety improvements where possible, such as locking bars on sliding doors. Residence Life and DUPD staff met just recently with DSG and Fix My Campus student representatives to walk around central and discuss concerns and possible solutions. A variety of security improvements are being explored to make campus as safe as possible, and further safety enhancements will be shared as they are approved and implemented.
Safety is a shared responsibility. Students can do their part by taking simple steps like locking their doors, keeping to lighted paths at night, walking in groups when possible, and reporting suspicious activity to police. The university will do its part by ensuring that police officers are deployed to areas of concern throughout the day, and that information is shared with students on a timely basis.
We welcome your questions or suggestions. We are here to help, and to keep campus safe.
Larry Moneta Vice President for Student Affairs
Chief John Dailey Duke University Police Department
Somehow we've arrived at the last issue of our newsletter to you for this year. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around 'last' while simultaneously focusing on the abundant work ahead (as, undoubtedly, are you). Between now and next fall when we issue our first newsletter of the next academic year, much will transpire. In our world, the Events Pavilion and Bryan Center renovations will be complete (check out: pavilioncam.studentaffairs.duke.edu), West Union will be closed and shrouded in fencing, many departments and offices will have relocated (sites.duke.edu/westunion), considerable renovations work will have been completed in our Central Campus apartments and on East Campus and much more.
As I write this, I'm reflecting on the academic year nearly past and feel so grateful to have worked with so many of you...especially our faculty. We have a fascinating project in development with several faculty from Psychology and Neuroscience regarding student resiliency, are partnering with Fuqua faculty on leadership development, and working with numerous faculty in the areas of entrepreneurship, sustainability, civic engagement and much more. Many of our staff serve as adjunct faculty and I'm so pleased that we support Duke's teaching (and research) mission in the classroom in addition to the experiential opportunities we provide. As I say with every issue of our newsletter, we welcome any opportunity to partner with faculty and look forward to hearing from and supporting you.
But, the year is not over and we have critical opportunities and occasions ahead. It seems that every student performing arts group is planning its final shows in the next few weeks. On April 17, we celebrated student leadership and service achievements at our awards ceremony (http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/ucae/leadership/leadership-service-awards). Please join us in congratulating the winners for their great work!
And, then there's LDOC (Last day of Classes)....we welcome any faculty presence there and you can even earn a jacket and hat by joining our A-Team, our events 'support team'. Just email me if you're interested at email@example.com.
This has been a great year so far and I expect a furious but fantastic rush to the finish line. We're grateful for your support and look forward to sharing and connecting more with you in the years ahead.
Have a great Spring,
"Office Hours" with Bill Wright-Swadel Graduating students will soon take their first steps down career paths that may take unforeseen directions. In his 30 years as a college career counselor, William Wright-Swadel has picked up some wisdom about the road ahead for soon-to-be graduates, which he shared in a live "Office Hours" webcast interview on Friday, April 5.
I know that this paragraph will not do justice to my experience during ASB: Arts & Activism. Throughout the week I built a relationship with the students and they defied my expectations. They were very smart, quick, and passionate. Each high school student had a story to tell and was invested in a social issue. These students have the power to change the world, and I hope they do!
Shortly after the World Trade Center complex was completed, acrobat Philippe Petit tight-roped across the gap between the two buildings, a quarter mile above the New York City streets.
In the novel “Let the Great World Spin,” this year’s summer reading selection for Duke University’s Class of 2017, author Colum McCann imagines how this single, daring event turned from ordinary to extraordinary the lives of many people watching on the street below.
Student Leadership and Service Award Winners Each spring, the Vice President for Student Affairs invites members of the Duke community to nominate deserving undergraduate and graduate students, recognized student organizations, faculty, staff, and alumni for the University’s most prestigious awards for leadership and engagement. This year's winners are...
Residence Hall Closing Information All residence halls and apartments close for summer break at noon on Monday, May 6, 2013. Students must be completely moved out and have returned their keys by this time.
Graduating seniors and other students approved for housing extensions due to participation in commencement, athletic teams, or other university approved events will be able to occupy their spring housing assignment until noon on Monday, May 13 at the latest.
Students participating in Summer Session 1 are only eligible for housing extensions upon completion and approval of their summer housing application. Parents and students are reminded that move-in for upperclass students for the fall semester is Friday, August 23, 2013.
Congratulations to the following students, student organizations, faculty, and administrators who have been awarded Duke University’s most prestigious campus-wide honors for leadership and service. Recipients accepted these honors at the Duke University Student Leadership and Service Awards program on April 17, 2013.
No one warned me about the wall I’d hit senior year. I heard that I would reach a point when I’d just say screw it and do things for completion because I’m almost out the door. I have more important things to do like skipping class and sitting on the plaza with some friends and some of the finest Busch Light or walking to Ben & Jerry’s to get a scoop on free cone day. It’s LSOC (last semester of college – because Duke loves useless acronyms); I’m supposed to be on an emotional high and full of life. Yet whenever someone asks me, how I’m doing I reply, “not that great.” Which generally elicits the “BUT YOU’RE A SENIOR!” response, particularly from underclassmen.
Thank you for reminding me that I’m supposed to be in a perpetual state of euphoria. Sorry to disappoint. Of course there’s fun to be had in college, especially as a senior. Everything is a little heightened and more meaningful. Lunch of Wednesday could be and likely will be the last time I eat at the Law School Refrectory. Gotta capture that moment and feel it – the living nostalgia that makes me long for the memories I’m in the process of making. It makes me hyperaware of my reality and impossible for me to turn a blind eye to the rest of life. The job hunt, papers, readings, and meetings are annoying, but they’re nothing to lose sleepover. Weird, considering I can’t seem to manage more than two consecutive hours a night recently. And maddening because I couldn’t explain why, until the other night.
I had been trying to pinpoint the source of my insomnia, looking to blame anxiety from work, fear of graduation, angst from unemployment, and worry of missing out on my remaining time. They were the natural places to look, but a few nights ago I had one of those muddled dreams that makes zero logical sense yet somehow is loosely intelligible to my consciousness. Meaning I don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell in explaining it. I can say, however, when I woke up I realized looking for a single root cause of my mood was a mistake. Every problem that should be like a small breeze blowing against the fire that keeps me going has slowly compounded to create a gale force wind that extinguished my flame. I’m burnt out.
I’m tired of engaging in the same conversations about the Duke social hierarchy, the administration’s numerous shortcomings, people “not getting it or not paying attention,” and imagining what-if. I’ve heard the same canned dialogue since August 2009. I’ve learned a lot from it, but it’s time to move on. Those conversations, which are old and irritating to me now, shaped me. I’m sure I could still gain more from sticking around and listening to the same qualms, but I think I would grow more cynical and disillusioned. I need a clean break and to face a whole new set of conversations.
Which brings me to the classic question that a senior answers on a daily basis, “What are you doing with your life or in the real world?” Does it not baffle anyone else? Why ask me now? Why did you not ask me that question last year or two years ago? I understand the sort of response it’s trying to elicit, and that is exactly my problem. It equates life with work. Maybe it has escaped your attention, but the four years we spend at Duke are real. True, many of us may not have as many concerns or responsibilities as we will post-graduation, but the operative phrase is as many. We still face challenges and heavy situations here. Financial struggle, sexual assault, discrimination, death, and relationships I would say a more real than the impending “real world” that most people use as a misnomer for the workforce.
College has been real, and that’s why I’m exhausted. “I’M A SENIOR.”
The week before last, award-winning Chinese writer Yan Lianke paid a visit to Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, delivering a talk titled “My Literary Self-criticism”. I never read his novels but his controversial works have been under heated discussion in China for some time. I was curious about the talk, especially the title, so I went to attend it at UNC Chapel Hill.
Over the 50-min talk, Yan touched on several main topics – ranging from social responsibilities of contemporary writers in modern China era to his fear of detachment (of him and his works) to the masses, among others. All of them are thought-provoking to me, and I will select two to talk about here.
The first is about the detachment to the masses. Like many successful persons in his generation, Yan was born in some poor rural town far away from the cities. His success in career brought him respect and reverence from people in his hometown, but at the same time, their hope of being helped by him, both financially and politically. Yan doesn’t blame these people, and I agree with his rationale. Most of time, it’s not these people are greedy or lazy, it’s the political system that only allows certain percentage of people to enjoy the prosperity that China’s fast development has brought to, while most of the population (the massive group without proper education, without money, without political power) still lives in a quite bad condition. Moreover, in Chinese traditions, especially in the rural areas, people who became successful in the cities are sort of responsible to help the poor. Sometimes it’s in the form of donating money for road construction; sometimes it’s in the form of recommending jobs for them in the cities, among others. Therefore, once they found out that someone among them got famous and/or became rich, they believed they will be helped. Yan feels really bad that every time he visits his hometown, villagers constantly visit his home only for asking help. Between them there seems to be nothing else worthy being talked of. (My father was born in rural area too, and though he’s not famous or rich, but every time we went back to visit his family in the village, all I could see was the begging – no emotion involved, no interests in how my father’s life etc. ) Yan, being a writer, is pretty concerned about this detachment as he’s afraid that his works cannot reflect what the masses are thinking and perceiving.
The other is about his controversy in China. One of his recent novels had been criticized to be expressing his hidden sentiments and feelings to one scholar by means of gentle allusions and ambiguous phrases. Other than this, his invited comments on the disputed island between China and Japan appeared on New York Times and another Japanese newspaper in 2012 and were under heated debate among Chinese people. Some blamed him to be a traitor. My concerns are more on an individual Chinese level, especially the bad feelings of criticizing my own country and countrymen in front of foreigners, therefore I asked him a question during the Q&A session after the talk: as a Chinese student studies abroad, how should I respond to foreigners' criticism of China and how should I talk about China's problems in front of an international audience; I felt bad about saying anything bad but true. His answer: remain truthful and the world would respect you. Not sure why but I was almost bursting to tears upon hearing these.
I am very glad that I took the time to attend his talk. It’s always interesting to meet different Chinese scholars, businessmen, politicians and others, to listen to their opinions and they usually help me shape my thoughts about my motherland in a more clear, systematic and firmer way.
Warm greetings to parents and families as we enter the end of the school season…and warm is the operational word after a long, chilly winter. I recall with clear memory the moment our daughter Molly read those unforgettable words over four years ago: “Duke University is now your university!” I am dazzled by the rapid passage of time, recognizing that graduation – only weeks away – will be the end of my Duke “career” although our daughter’s will extend indefinitely through networks, alumni events and a rich academic legacy.
As a New York City parent of a senior, I have tried to find ways to see the school through my daughter’s eyes, while recognizing that her independent life leaves only a slight opening for a true understanding of the depth and breadth of opportunities at Duke. Over the course of four years, we advised our freshman, listened to our sophomore, and had fleeting conversations with our junior studying abroad. By senior year, we have experienced a far more opinionated thinker, guided by her own voice and the decisions she is making about her future.
One thing I am clear on is what an entirely special place Duke has become to our whole family, though both my husband and I are involved in our own alma maters. The Duke Parents Advisory Council (DPAC), which is convened through the Department of Student Affairs under Larry Moneta’s leadership, has been my window into the community. Throughout my four years at DPAC, I have met wonderful parents who care about the institution and how it is shaping their children. I know deeply passionate and capable administrators who support an infrastructure of facilities, services, and most importantly, values that underpin the school. My engagement with DPAC has allowed me to step back from the details of Molly’s life and into the world of a vibrant academic institution that is evolving as quickly as the world is changing.
No question, undergraduate education is loaded with paradox: the array of academic choices is astounding; the social pressures are extreme; alcohol abounds; required course loads and practicalities can steal from a traditional liberal arts learning environment; a tepid economy awaits. Through DPAC, I have heard about the dark and challenging side of student life. At the same time, I have learned about the value the school places on social impact endeavors, the importance of sustainability and local farming initiatives across campus, and the spirit of entrepreneurialism and innovation that springs from an outstanding engineering program and proximity to Research Triangle Park. Further, I have watched how the school grapples with the complexity of a student body from far-flung locations and a mix of backgrounds and cultures, as it tries to make sense of the opportunities and dilemmas created by a diverse community. And finally, this year we had the ultimate leveling experience of being at one in Cameron Stadium where the greater Duke community convenes to support the ongoing excellence of Coach K’s Blue Devils.
Molly is entering the world fortified with outstanding friendships and a healthy tether to a great community. I don’t know her exact path at Duke to get to graduation day and I’m not sure that I want to. In the end, we believe that her four years have been infused with experiences that value leadership, critical thinking and effective problem solving. Duke embodies what it endeavors to create in young talent. By virtue of her time at this exceptional institution, we are confident that she has acquired the important relationships and skills to allow her to excel in the path of her own choosing.
From the very moment we enter kindergarten our next thirteen or seventeen years are no longer up to us. Sure we can rebel, choose to drop out of school, or elect not to attend college. But we’re all at Duke, so I’m going to go out on limb and say we allowed our lives to be dictated by a cultural hegemony. Our immediate goal was decided for us – do well and move on to the next level of education. Of course we had opportunities to define our interests and seek complementary ventures, but the key word is complementary. With few exceptions we never chose to substitute our end game.
As college quickly comes to a close for the class of 2013, some of us are unemployed and completely at a loss as to what path to pick. It doesn’t have to and likely will not be the one we will travel forever. Yet we still have a choice to make. Many of us chose our next step as a way to bide time. I could not tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m working at [insert company here] for a year or two ‘til I get my MBA or figure out what I want.”
There in lies the problem. We never had to figure out what we want. You could argue that we did when we chose our area of study. But remind me how many biomedical engineers from Duke become consultants? Certainly our tastes or aspirations may have and will change. I still wonder how many of us pursue pastimes that inspire in us zeal.
Some of us are fortunate enough to know our passions. I have friends who invest their lives to film in hopes of becoming directors. Others will speak to the world through dance or search for new vaccinations in lab coat. They are a fortunate minority. Most of us have either experimented or sat idly coming up with nothing.
Those of us leaving Durham in five weeks need ask ourselves if our next chapter is going to be written by the expectations and standards of others or if we will draft our own script. Those staying behind should use your remaining time to question your current trajectory. Exist with intentionality and gusto. Duke has opportunities for you to explore, though most are not advertised well. You can find funding to do research abroad or begin a new social venture. If there’s something you want to try, ask because there is a way.
Being lost is fine, as long as we’re conscious of it. In knowing our lack of direction, we are at least assured that we’re asking the right questions. Facing the, “Now what?” can be daunting, but don’t let it scare you into forfeiting the next X number of years to a safe system of predetermination.