Narrator: You are listening to the Duke University Parent and Family Programs podcast.
Maggie: Hello, this is Maggie Peterson from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. We are here today with Tatum Riley. Thank you for being here to chat with us today, Tatum! Could you please start by telling us your hometown, major, and class year at Duke?
Tatum: Hi! I’m from Phoenix, Arizona. Currently I’m decided that I am probably going to major in public policy and psychology. I’m going to do an interdepartmental major, and I am a freshman at Duke—class of 2022.
Maggie: Great, thanks! So today I’d love to chat about your reflections on your first year at Duke. Let’s start by talking about move-in day. So when you moved into your dorm in August, what emotions did you experience?
Tatum: I had a lot of emotions that day—partially excitement because I live in Trinity, so that was nice. But I was honestly really sad. It was hard for me to leave my family and go so far from home. It was nice meeting new people, but it was a combination of fear and excitement.
Maggie: What was transitioning to Duke like?
Tatum: Transitioning was a challenge for me I would say. My first semester I didn’t enjoy it until about November just because it was hard—I am used to having a certain group of friends at home and in high school. And then I would see some people who already had their friends, and I was just wondering why it took me a while. But then I think once I put myself out there more and realized what types of people I wanted to be around, it was easier for me.
Maggie: What student groups or organizations did you get involved with and how did you find them?
Tatum: So I first started with Duke University Union Speakers and Stage. That’s super fun because I get to meet a lot of different celebrities and then meet people through the club as well. I’m also in GANO, which tutors people with English as a second language, and then I’m a tour guide.
Maggie: --Do you work on campus?
Tatum: I do. I have a great job at the Dean of Student’s Office. The co-workers are amazing, and I’m always doing something new. I really like it.
Maggie: What was living on East Campus with the rest of the class of 2022 like?
Tatum: That was probably my favorite part about Duke. I liked being able to just walk around, and if you were lost you weren’t there with intimidating seniors—it was just a whole bunch of freshmen just as scared as you. We have different things like Marketplace, and I think that really helped because you could go to Marketplace alone and come back with a group of friends. That was always really comforting. I also really like the architecture on East Campus.
Maggie: It is beautiful over here. Are there any challenges you faced in this first year? You mentioned a few when you talked about the emotions of moving on to campus.
Tatum: So academically I was challenged in the sense that I wasn’t used to different styles of teaching. Although it felt like a gradual transition from high school to college in terms of the rigor, every professor has a different method, so that was a little bit of a challenge. I also think the east coast vibe was very different—that was challenging. I had to adjust to humidity—that was really big for me. I couldn’t handle that. And then probably just having so much autonomy. I really like it, but it’s weird not having your mom give you food everyday at seven pm.
Maggie: Great answers. What are your favorite moments or memories of this past year?
Tatum: I have a lot. I think probably my favorite days are the days when it's nice out and you walk around and everyone’s just sitting on the quad hanging out with their friends. So I used to—before class, whenever it was nice, out my friend and I would just do homework outside—that was super nice. I love going to the Gardens with my friends. Also our first snow! That was really fun because it was during finals week, and everyone was stressed. And then all of a sudden it started snowing, and the stress just went away for about an hour when we played in the snow.
Maggie: Was that your first snow, being from Arizona?
Tatum: It was not my first snow, but it was my first snow in a while.
Maggie: As you move into sophomore year, what valuable lessons did you learn in your first full year at Duke?
Tatum: Putting myself out there. I—looking back at it, I think part of my challenges at Duke were probably because I wasn’t doing that. And even if you fear rejection or fear potential outcomes, I think it always works out in the end because you can’t do anything if you don’t try.
Maggie: If you could go back and give yourself advice before coming to Duke last August, what would that advice be?
Tatum: I guess I would probably say it’s okay to not be your high school self because I think a lot of people—I did this—but a lot of people hold on and think, “I did this in high school”, or “I was like this in high school,” but sometimes it’s okay to change and do other things. And I don’t think I have changed a lot from high school, but I think if I wasn’t holding on to certain things, the adjustment would have been easier for me.
Maggie: So now just a fun question, what are you looking forward to in your second year at Duke when you come back next August?
Tatum: I’m excited to live super close to West Union. I’m excited to live just on West Campus in general. Although I said I like the scenery on East Campus, I think the gothic architecture is kind of fun. I want to join Club Badminton, I’m excited for that. My friends will probably have a car so that will be nice too. There’s a lot to look forward to though.
Maggie: That’s great. Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?
Tatum: My favorite place to eat on campus is probably Sazón in West Union because I’m a big Chipotle fan, so it’s basically Chipotle but close to me. This is coffee, but I really like Bee-yu Blue, or Bey-u Blue—I don’t know how to say it, but their coffee is very strong. I really like it. The Oprah Mocha; it's amazing.
Maggie: Thank you so much for talking with us today. Do you have any last thoughts you want to share?
Tatum: Go Blue Devils!
Maggie: You have been listening to Maggie Peterson from the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Duke University. This concludes our interview with Tatum Riley. Tune in next month for another one of our podcasting series.