Hello fellow Blue Devils! My name is Gabrielle Sawyer and I am a rising sophomore from Washington, D.C. Congratulations on your acceptance into Duke! If youâre on the pre-med track like me, get ready for a whirlwind of a semester. Donât be surprised if you end up changing your career plans every day like I did. Itâs a totally normal occurrence among freshmen. Use this year to explore the many opportunities and classes that Duke has to offer. And in the meantime, also remember to have fun!
As a True Blue cast-member, I hope to reassure you that your next four years at Duke will be the most amazing time of your life. However, this time is also full of emotional stresses and pressures. College is a funny time in that you have the independence of an adult without many of their corresponding responsibilities. Therefore, your time at Duke is a learning experience, or what I like to call an abyss into the unknown.
Growing up in a sheltered household prevented me from seeing the nightlife of drinking, sex, and social pressures among my peer group. Crazy adventures and crowded house parties were never my social scene in high school. The knowledge I had of these environments came from trusted friends and teenage dramas on television. I knew before I came to Duke that I would abstain from alcohol and stay away from âbadâ parties and environments. It was all so simple. Then O-week happened. I was suddenly immersed into a life where many students worked hard during the day and partied all throughout the night. Unlike in high school, I lived with these students and was forced to see on many occasions the negative effects of alcohol abuse. Iâm not saying that parties, drinking, and sex are bad. Everyone has different methods and ideas of relieving stress and having fun. However, when events get out of hand, larger problems like addiction, depression, sexual abuse, and alcohol poisoning can arise.
When I saw the True Blue performance during O-week, I learned that despite the drama and stresses of college, Duke overall is a fun and safe place to be. For me, True Blue represents freedom of expression. You as an individual dictate your overall Duke experience. You decide the people you associate yourself with. You decide the clubs and organizations you join. You decide the path you want to take that shapes the rest of your life. There are so many resources here to help and support you in your social and academic endeavors that lead up to this path.
Lastly, donât feel like you have to meet the status quo. Stay TRUE to yourself! As a fashion model in the 2013 Jabulani showcase hosted by Duke Africa, I learned that keeping my head high and embracing my crazy hair and flawed characteristics gives me more confidence. Only you can allow others to beat you down.
With that, enjoy your first semester at Duke!