Thank you Rubens for agreeing on being our featured student for the month! As a Karsh Scholar I have been able to appreciate your openness to new students and willingness to help everyone and before you leave I want to share your story with everyone!
With Spring Break (for those of you who get the time off) about a week away, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you well with the rest of the semester and offer a few thoughts about current events and their implications for many of you. It is not my intent to make this a political commentary, but I want to be sure to express my concerns for the many of you who might be feeling insecure or vulnerable right now as things rapidly change in the national scene. Here’s what I want to say:
My name is Cyan and I am currently a freshman here at Duke. I’m from New York so I’m a bit far from home, but my experiences at Duke make it worth the travel. What I really love about my school, and part of my decision to come here, had to do with all of the opportunities that are offered. I came here telling myself to take advantage of the resources that I have while I can.
I have been a loyal Blue Devil since I first came to Duke as a freshman in the fall of 1963. One of the great honors of my life has been being invited to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees, and to play a small part in Duke’s continuing ascent.
The most important job a board performs is the selection of a president, so when David Rubenstein, chair of the Board of Trustees, asked me to lead the search for Dick Brodhead’s successor, I was deeply honored, of course, but also very aware that it had to be done right in order to achieve the best outcome. For me, doing it right involved several key steps.
Dear Duke Families,
It is a pleasure to meet you! I am the new director for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a unit on campus that supports your student on a path toward academic success. I am excited to be here given the commitment Duke has made to student wellness. Many institutions across the country are working to address mental health issues based on the fact that mental health is the number one factor in lowering retention and is a better predictor of college grade point average than ACT or SAT scores. The 97% four-year retention rate to graduation at Duke demonstrates that retention is not a significant issue on this campus; highlighting that Duke’s focus is supporting mental health services because student wellness is valued.
Dear Undergraduate Student:
The Office of Student Conduct staff welcomes you (back) to Duke! We know your time is valuable, so with that in mind, here are 10 things to keep in mind this year. For the overwhelming majority of you, this list will never apply directly to you, so we especially THANK YOU for reading through these items— and perhaps you can be a persuasive voice to your peers in steering them away from some of the negative behaviors described below, should you see them heading down a potentially perilous path.
My name is Nicholas Antonicci, I use the pronouns he/him/his, and I'm the Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity here at Duke University.
Yesterday, I woke to the news of tragedy of 50 innocent people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a gay bar on a night celebrating Latinx people and communities.
I struggle to put feelings and emotions into words, to put pain into soundbites that appease and comfort those around me.
I struggle with balancing immense sadness for the lives lost, with anger at the forces which allowed this to happen and will continue to happen, namely homophobia and transphobia. I balance wanting to care for others, with frustration in the ways many of those who are responding are centering the feelings of heterosexual and cis peoples.
The wait begins.
Yesterday I found out that I had become victim of government beaurocracy and needed to go to DC to arrange a passport emergency. Last minute trip = little financial flexibility. Megabus it is. Gulp.
I get to the bus stop. Trepidation. I see several tired looking people in line in front of me. One woman holds a cigarette between her hands, getting the last hit before the 6-feels-like-60 hour-long journey begins. (I can’t blame her. I find myself trying to soak up all the fresh air I can.) Another man holds a plastic bag for his travel belongings. Everyone looks so tired, just like at Duke.
I get seated on the Megabus. Why is it that they seem to smell like a mixture between floral soap, cigarettes, and baby powder?
Dear Duke Families,
As I look out my office window, I have the privilege of seeing our students walking (and rushing) by between classes, meals, meetings and study venues. So many things are apparent on the rare occasion that I get to just pause and admire the passersby. I notice that many seem either immune to the winter chill or in denial about the need to wear warmer clothes! I notice that rarely is anyone walking alone. Students travel in pairs, groups and masses! I notice that some kind of technological device is apparently welded to their ears or their palms (hopefully talking or texting with you). But, I also notice how remarkably different they are, reflecting the substantial and wonderful diversity within the Duke student body.
You have likely heard of the many protests occurring on our nation’s campuses concerning issues of diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment. Duke is not immune to these discussions, nor should we be. Our outstanding students are challenging us to do better in these areas, their expectations pressing us to a higher standard.
As a stimulus for new ideas and creativity, diversity is at the core of a liberal arts education—and at the very core of our institutional values. Duke is now more diverse—in race, ethnicity, gender, economic standing, academic discipline and intellectual inquiry—than it has ever been. This is as it should be, because we learn the most from those who are different from ourselves. But we are by no means done, and never will be.