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Jerry (Bei) Sun, 1994-2015

Jerry (Bei) Sun, a Duke University biology student, passed away Wednesday, March 4, from a rare form of cancer. Jerry was scheduled to graduate from Duke in 2016.

Duke flags were lowered to half-mast in his honor.

"Jerry loves every one of you," said Jerry's mother, Cathy Liu. "He appreciated all the help the Duke community gave him. Although he may not have been in contact with you during the past few months, I know Jerry missed all of you very much!"

Jerry first came to Duke as a high school student at North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham to do an independent study project in the Center for Biomedical and Tissue Engineering. The lab became an important part of his life at Duke.

"Jerry came to us as a talented student with a deep interest in science. He was curious and bright, and learned complex materials quickly," said Jun Chen, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, who oversaw his work both as a high school student, and subsequently as a Duke student beginning in the fall of 2012. "Jerry worked and thought creatively, and his contributions were equivalent to those of a junior graduate student."

Jerry was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor this past spring. During his treatment, he expressed great thanks and wonder at the support he received from his friends and family.

"You guys... I don't know even know where to begin," he wrote in a recent Facebook post. "I left my inbox alone for a day and it completely exploded. Thank you for the overwhelming support. Thank you for sharing my story. Thank you for your kind words. I've been humbled every step of the way by the kindness and support of the community around me."

"Jerry was the type of guy that you could trust your deepest secrets with and he would never tell a soul," said Lucy Ma, a close friend. "We talked about classes, friends, lab work, relationships. He was great at giving advice and maintaining an objective perspective. He was dedicated to his friends, academics, and family. I miss him dearly."

Jerry is survived by his parents, Jingli Sun and Chunying Liu; a younger sister, Lily May Sun; paternal grandmother, Sulan Xia; maternal grandmother, Zhilan Cui and maternal grandfather, Yixun Liu. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Huaide Sun.

Services will be held Saturday, March 14. at 2 p.m. at Chinese Christian Mission Church, 4528 Bennett Memorial Road in Durham.

Memorial contributions may be made online to Duke Cancer Institute through https://www.gifts.duke.edu (in memory of Jerry Bei Sun).

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Count calories? Maybe it’s better if we don’t.

It’s ironic that at a time when new legislation will demand that restaurants (having more than 20 locations), and vending machines (anyone owning more than 20) will have to disclose calorie and nutrition information, we are also learning that counting calories might be counterproductive to addressing the obesity epidemic in this country.

It’s not rocket science to figure out that calorie counting might not be working – it’s been done for years and look where it got us. Believe me, I realize that our obesity epidemic is not just about calorie counting: obesity is actually very complex, we always just want to over simplify it by bringing it back to calories in and calories out.  We now know that the source of calories consumed have different effects metabolically in our bodies.    

There are times where calorie counting may be beneficial; such as to offer perspective on energy intake, when someone has no idea of how much they are eating. Our food label information, for instance, is currently based on a 2000 calorie diet and for many this means very little. Perhaps counting calories for a day might assist in increasing awareness of how our intake compares.  However, that is more or less where it ends. Counting calories, or counting nutrient values for that matter, diminishes the food we eat to a numeric value.  Inherently that removes the pleasure, joy and satisfaction we derive from eating only to have it replaced with worry, guilt and an overall unsatisfying dining experience.  If you look at countries that are not struggling with weight issues, or hadn’t until recently, it’s not because they’ve been counting calories all these years.  Perhaps it is because they eat food and not nutrients, they appreciate the flavor, color, texture and origins of the food that they are eating and enjoy the company of the people they are eating with. It’s really not about calories, it’s about balance, and it’s just taking us a little longer to realize that.

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Love Is A Verb, a screening and discussion

Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the l960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet, the Turkish word for service or The Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.

Kenneth Hunter, Executive Producer and Hakan Berberoglu, Co-Producer will be present for a screening and Q&A for this new documentary on the Gulen Movement on ​Tuesday, January 13th @6:00pm at Duke Bryan Center, Griffith Theater.

Presented by the Center for Muslim Life at Duke.

Read more about this documentary at www.loveisaverbmovie.com.

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Taking Advantage of Career Center Opportunities

The first week of my freshman year, I received some really important advice from a graduating senior that attended my high school. She told me “one of the best things about being a Duke student is all the opportunities the University has to offer you. It’s your job to take advantage of them.” As a graduating senior myself now, I’d like to think this has colored my Duke experience. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in service and academic engagement programs, attend and met numerous prominent campus figures, and travel abroad twice! I leave Duke confident I’ve made the most of my experience. 

But this advice didn’t only influence my approach to curricular and extra-curricular involvements. This advice was also indicative of my approach and experience with the Duke Career Center. When I was looking for a summer internship my sophomore year, I scheduled an appointment with a career counselor. Not having any idea of what I wanted to do, I went into the appointment feeling very lost. During my meeting I was told about all the opportunity seeking resources I could utilize to hone in on my interest, and connect with alumni in the field. Despite being a little overwhelmed at first, I got myself organized; I did my research, and dove right in.

My search began on DukeConnect; I was able to speak with several alumni to get more information on a variety of career paths I was interested in pursuing. I also submitted applications to various internship programs passed along to me through that initial appointment. I utilized the drop-in advising services to perfect all my resumes and cover letters. Ultimately, I was accepted to the INROADS program, which strives to place underrepresented students in the business industry. I received my first internship through the INROADS process with a pharmaceutical lobbying group. Through the program I was able to receive business and industry training, and interned with the company for two summers thereafter. My internships played a very large role in determining my career interests, and ultimately supported my decision to attend law school. However, I would have never known about the experience if I hadn’t taken advantage of the all the opportunities the Career Center offers to students.

Often times, Duke can seem like a daunting a place and the internship/job search can be as well. The sheer number of opportunities can be overwhelming. But that shouldn’t be a reason to shy away. Instead, in order to take make the most of your four years here, and as I was told my first week here “It’s your job to take advantage of them!”

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On the greatness of counseling

Let me be entirely honest and open in what I’m about to say. Honesty after all, is so little found in conversations about mental health and yet so powerful when it is. I have, like 1 in 4 other young people my age, struggled with my mental health on and off. There have been times when I’ve been sick with hopelessness and misery, consumed with self-loathing and hatred. Likewise, there have times when I’ve been ecstatically happy and grateful. My emotional health is a mental rollercoaster and contains the best and worst memories for me. But it is not all of me.

There was however, a point this semester when it got a little too much. I was exhausted with faking positivity to myself every day and pep-talking myself out of bed, throwing on smiles when all I wanted to do was cry. My sense of self-worth was at an all time low and life at Duke seemed unbearably overwhelming. I made an appointment at CAPS. It was not the first time. I had talked to woman once my freshmen year, when things had gotten particularly stressful. There seemed however, a difference to me between a one-time chat and regularly seeing a counselor with the intention of understanding yourself. And I decided that I was tired of having the emotional lows but no real answers. I was tired of believing in untruths about myself that led me to think in despairing ways.

So I decided to sign myself into regular counseling sessions. It was both frightening and liberating. A part of me was angry and afraid that I needed help in the first place – what was wrong with me? Another part of me was relieved because, for the first time, there was another option, one that validated my emotions instead of dismissing them.

I’m about five sessions in now, and I think going into counseling has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has surprised me and taught me how little I really knew about myself. If anything, it’s been an independent study in my own persona, to work out how I react to situations and why I react that way. This is information I feel that anyone young and uncertain can use because it has yielded insights richer than I could have hoped. How much do we really think about our ways of coping? Or whether the way we see ourselves is accurate? Or whether we need, sometimes, to catch ourselves when we self-hate and reassess the situation?

Counseling is not simply lying on a couch and talking about how you feel, like every film Hollywood makes. It’s an intimate leap into your own mind and it’s uncomfortable sometimes and it’s confronting. It’s shown me how little I truly know about myself, and helped me determine my values and priorities. It’s showing me slowly how to be happier. And it’s great.

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Ms. Trezza’s Kindergarten Class, Fall 1999

About Me! Worksheet

I found this worksheet at the back of my closet a few days before I left for college in Fall 2012.  Aside from a slightly better understanding of spelling, nothing much had changed in thirteen years, particularly my aspiration of becoming a doctor.  So, when I arrived at Duke, I was eager to start on the pre-med journey.  I, along with 300 other freshmen, excitedly (and naïvely, as I now know that nothing good can happen for me on Science Drive) walked up the long flight of stairs to Gross Chem to attend Chem 101.

As you may have realized already, I quickly found out that the long flight of stairs to what I thought would be an introduction to my career as a doctor was actually the flight of stairs to doom.  I learned that I couldn’t form any type of bond, covalent or ionic (get it?), with this class.  While my classmates were busy completing reaction equations and others sorts of smart chemistry things that I didn’t understand, I was busy flailing my arms in despair at the thought of continuing to take confusing classes that I was not passionate about for the next four years of my life.  I realized that I would have to look beyond my lifelong dream of being a doctor in search of something different.

Fast forward to present day, and I am now two years older, wiser, and an Economics major (so maybe not THAT wise).  Unlike freshman Lauren, I now have absolutely no idea what I want to do in the future.  I worked up a sweat running around the career fair as I stopped at every booth in every industry, from retail to banking, and I’ve spent many hours talking to whoever happens to be sitting next to me (to the freshman on the C1 two weeks ago: I’m sorry if I scared you) about the giant question mark that is my future.  Luckily, that person who’s sitting next to me has also become members of the staff at the Career Center, who are always there to listen to my latest debacles in my career search before reassuring me that whenever one door closes, another one opens.  I’ve found that it’s important to not be afraid of new opportunities and possibilities.  What I may want to do might be completely different from every other Economics major, but it’s also completely okay to try something new.  The most important thing about my choice is that it is something that I will enjoy, and as long as I am confident in my choice, success—and more importantly, happiness—will naturally follow.

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Student Health Closed for Thanksgiving

The Student Health Center will be closed for Thanksgiving beginning at 12:30pm on Wednesday, 11/26, and will re-open at 8:30am on Monday, December 1st.

For after-hours care, please call us at 919-681-9355.

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What I Learned from the SNAP Challenge

Four dollars.  On Duke’s campus, that could get you a single bowl of soup at the Loop.  Most of us spend far more than four dollars on each meal we eat, with Duke’s minimum meal plan allotting $20 per day.  However, for a great number of North Carolinians, four dollars is all they have to feed themselves each and every day.  Four dollars is the daily allowance given by North Carolina’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also formerly known as Food Stamps.  In the month of October in Durham County alone, over 44,000 individuals were utilizing SNAP.  Hunger and concern for where one’s next meal will come from is a daily reality for too many. 

 

To shed light on how challenging it can be to eat on so restricted a budget, I chose to participate in the Duke SNAP Challenge, hosted this past Wednesday through Friday by UCAE.  Armed with my $12, I started my challenge at Harris Teeter, knowing there’d be no way to feed myself on food points with so little.  Despite not having much to spend, that trip to the grocery store was one of the longest I’ve taken in a while.  Instead of mindlessly browsing the aisles, sipping my Starbucks and throwing whatever looked good into my cart, I spent over an hour scouring the weekly coupon flyer and scanning the shelves for special savings offers.  I stood in front of the canned goods for over five minutes, adding together different totals in my head to find the best deal.  I circled through the store at least twice, having to take some things back out of my basket to stay under budget and sadly avoiding the fresh produce section in favor of the quantity I could purchase in boxes and cans.  At the register, I ended up with a large container of oatmeal, two bags of frozen vegetables, three bananas, two large cans of chicken, a jar of applesauce, two boxes of rice and beans mix, and 70 cents left over.  For the three days of the challenge, my single bag of groceries allowed me a banana and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast each morning and a serving of veggies with a bowl of beans, rice, and chicken for each lunch and dinner.  In between meals, I snacked occasionally out of my applesauce jar. 

 

By Friday evening I was in no way starving, but after three days of eating the same three, simple meals, I couldn’t help but think of the variety I would be able to indulge in over the weekend after the challenge was over.  I quickly caught myself though as I remembered that what I was treating as a 72-hour “challenge” is a reality that over 1.5 million North Carolinians face 365 days out of the year.  While I pile up my veggies in the salad bar line at Penn and swipe my DukeCard at the register without even asking about my total, thousands of families are struggling to put a meal on the table for dinner, let alone three daily nutritious and balanced ones.  It’s so easy to fall into the habits of mindless consumption and instant gratification, taking for granted the convenience and variety of food we have surrounding us at Duke.  We are quick to grumble about the ABP sandwich line but we fail to recognize that it’s a privilege just to be able to satisfy an afternoon snack craving, that the latte so many of us have consumed before 9am costs more than what a fellow Durhamite might be able to spend on food all day.  We’re constantly complaining to one another about how much stress we’re under with all of our exams and final papers, but imagine adding to that the stress of meticulously pinching every penny just to afford lunch, of getting nervous every time you approach the register because maybe you’ll have to leave the line to put something back, of not being able to focus on your work because your stomach is growling but eating is not an option. 

 

I’ll be the first to shamefully admit that I fall into these habits and make these complaints all too regularly.  I also know my mere participation in the SNAP challenge does nothing to change the face of hunger in North Carolina or the daily lived realities of SNAP enrollees.  It’s what happens now that the challenge is over that matters – approaching my meals with more mindfulness and gratitude, trying harder to eliminate my food waste, spending my food points more sparingly so I can also buy food to donate to Durham’s local food pantries and soup kitchens.  As we approach the holiday season, a time that too often celebrates consumption over concern for others, I would invite all of you to do your own SNAP challenge.  Or even better, volunteer to take action against hunger in Durham or your hometown.  At the very least, challenge yourself to be more mindful and thankful – so when you go to post that foodstagram of your Thanksgiving plate with your #blessed caption, think twice about how fortunate we truly are.  

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Student Health Closing Early 11/20

The Student Health Center will close at 3:45pm on Thursday, 11/20. We will re-open with normal operating hours at 8:30am on Friday, 11/21.

For after hours care, please call us at 919-681-9355. 

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Smile Your Way to Staying Well

You’ve heard it circulating for weeks now like bad background music – the symphony of sneezes in your stat lecture, the cacophony of coughs in comp-sci, the serenade of sniffles on the C1.  Everywhere you turn, Duke seems to be coming down with something, be it the never-ending cold, the dreaded flu, or some unnamed combination of sore throat, runny nose, and congestion.  Toss in the stress of impending midterms and busy weekend plans and it may seem imminent that you’ll be next in line at Student Health.  But before you get too resigned to the idea of getting sick this season, remember to SMILE and follow these tips for keeping your immune system in top shape:

Sleep – Getting a full night’s worth of shut-eye is important for fighting off sickness.  Sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours per night has been shown to reduce your immune resistance and make you more susceptible to contagious illnesses like the flu.  While it may sometimes seem impossible to get enough sleep with a heavy Duke workload, prioritizing a good night’s sleep will make you healthier, happier, and more productive during the day.  

Move – Aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week to keep your stress levels low and your immunity high.  Those who are regularly physically active are less susceptible to upper respiratory infections and colds.  More is not always better, however, as over-exercise or strenuous exercise while sick can lead to increased fatigue and vulnerability to bacteria and illness.  Listen to your body when deciding on your workout day-to-day.  Just going for a walk can improve your mood and immunity! 

Invest in Rest & Well-Being – If you’re already feeling under the weather, give yourself and your body a break. Take conscious time to care for yourself physically and mentally – let yourself nap, take a break from the gym, get plenty of fluids and nutrients, stay in on the weekend to watch a movie, read a book, or catch up on sleep.  It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life at Duke, but making an effort to slow down once in a while can have great benefits for your stress levels and your immune system. 

Lots of Soap! – Washing your hands frequently, especially before eating, is the most important thing you can do to prevent getting sick.  Keep hand sanitizer accessible, but also be sure to wash with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.  Washing between your fingers and under your nails is also important to eliminate illness-causing germs and bacteria.

Eat your Fruits, Veggies & Fats – Eating 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day will provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to best fight disease and infection.  Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and flax seeds are also crucial to stimulating your white blood cells that literally eat up germs!

With a little extra mindfulness put towards your physical and mental wellbeing, you’ll greatly increase your chances of staying cold and flu-free this fall and winter.  Aim to be your healthiest and happiest self this season and you’ll no doubt reap the benefits in your studies and your social life - it’s an investment well worth your while.   

 

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