First-Year Student Blog: The “Whats”, “Whos”, and “Wheres” That Make Duke So Special

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Krista Rose Niemeier, Class of 2017
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Like many of my first year peers at Duke, I can think of several ways in which transitioning to this University has altered my perspective.  Sometimes, I find myself gazing upward at the 210 foot tall Duke Chapel and simultaneously thinking of 210+ different things that I hope to accomplish here. It is times like these when the range of my imagination runs free and I consider the unlimited power I have to be the change I wish to see in the world.  Other times, I find myself taking a break between classes to converse with dining hall staff while I grab lunch at the East Campus Marketplace. It is times like these when I am reminded of the little ways in which we as individuals can make a difference. Whether it is a smile from my residence hall’s cleaning staff, whose members are already hard at work at 7:30am daily, or a moment of blindness as the Sun catches my eyes while walking across campus... I find meaning in the little things. These are the “Whats”, “Whos”, and “Wheres” that make Duke so special.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Krista Rose Niemeier and I am a freshman from New Jersey in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke. My interests include business, neuroscience, journalism and visual media studies… which means that I have many interests! Fortunately, Duke provides an environment in which I can explore all of these through both curricular and extracurricular endeavors. It is a new environment in which many people, places, and things interest me.

Arthur Conan Doyle, who authored the Sherlock Holmes series and was no stranger to adventure, once said, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” Constant searching within and outside of ourselves often clouds our minds from acknowledging the small ways in which we impact others and are impacted in return. In just my second semester as a student at Duke, I have already come to realize how easily overwhelming it can be to think of life beyond Duke. While planning for the future is unequivocally essential in this day and age, I also think it to be of great importance that we purposefully take time to stop and smell the roses. This is the idea I hope to convey throughout this blog series, by exposing some of the “little” things, people, or places that have kept me grounded during my short time here at Duke thus far.

Included in Duke’s mission is the promotion of “a deep appreciation for the range of human difference and potential, a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship, and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth.” In the big picture, I am…
1 student…
in a class of 1,739…
in a combined undergraduate and graduate university of 14,600…
in a world of 7 billion.

In acknowledging that, however, I think not of my insignificance. Rather, I think of how significant each and every individual in my class of 2017 has the potential to be. We are all part of communities both smaller and larger than Duke University. Within them, as within Duke, it is important that we recognize who, where, and what influences us so that we, in return (and on small and large scales), may “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” This is the message that Maya Angelou shared with the Class of 2017 at our convocation and one that I think can benefit all.

In the coming week, I plan to introduce you to one of the first people I met at Duke. Tamika is a barista at the Trinity Café. If there is one thing that Duke’s freshmen need during a late night of studying, it is coffee. At the same time, everyone can always benefit from a smile. This is exactly what Tamika provides. Coffee and positivity are two things we can be sure to find if stopping by Trinity Café while Tamika is on duty. 

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