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Alumni Spotlight - Dr. Amy Wechsler, T'91

Dermatologist & author of The Mind-Beauty Connection

Where are you from originally? What made you decide to attend Duke?
I am from Queens, NY and Rockland County, NY.  I decide to attend Duke for a number of reasons - I already knew that I wanted to go to medical school and I knew Duke had a strong pre-med program and a first-class hospital; I wanted to leave my comfort zone of the Northeast and try someplace new; I visited Duke with my family and fell in love with the school and the environment; I love college basketball; - the list goes on and on!
If you had to describe your Duke experience briefly, what would you say about it?
I loved every minute of my time at Duke.  I was struck by the fact that no one on the faculty said no to me - if I was interested in pursuing an activity, there was always someone who was willing to help me turn my interests into reality.  I had a great mix of academics and extracurricular activities and social time.  I made life-long friends, had inspiring professors, and did unique things like spending a lot of time at the Lemur Center.  

You graduated before the Freeman Center was built. Were you active in Jewish life on campus when you were a student? What groups or activities were you involved with as a student?
I was active around holidays - services were in the Chapel and my mom encouraged me to attend.  I was in a sorority (Kappa Alpha Theta), I babysat for faculty members, I volunteered at Duke hospital (most notably in a pediatric AIDS clinic) and at the Lemur Center, I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon starting in my sophomore year (I was actually in the operating room), I was a Big Sister to a young boy in Durham, and I played on the Club Volleyball team.

Talk about your career and life now.
I have a private practice in NYC - I own my office and I set my own schedule, which is great because I am a single mom of 2 awesome kids.  I work hard, I feel privileged to take care of people for a living, and I plan my schedule around my kids' events and activities.  I also consult with Chanel on their skin care products.

You are one of only two dermatologists in the country who is board certified in both dermatology and psychiatry.  How did you decide to focus on psychology AND dermatology? And how do the two disciplines relate to each other in your daily practice? 
I first became a psychiatrist (and child psychiatrist), but in practicing psychiatry I missed taking care of the physical ailments of my patients.  It took me a few months to figure out which specialty I wanted to combine with psychiatry, but when I discovered dermatology it made perfect sense to me.  The mind and skin have myriad connections and affect each other in innumerable ways.  I spend a lot of time with my patients and I look at them holistically, since what's going on in their lives can impact their skin and vice versa.  

You published a book, The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful, Beautiful Skin. You’ve been on TV programs such as the Dr. Oz Show, and featured in many publications such as The New York Times and O Magazine.  What has been the most exciting experience so far in your career? 
I don't have just one "most exciting" experience... in the office I love clearing up severe acne and watching each of those patients blossom as their self-esteem and confidence improves; I loved being on Tyra [Banks] for the first time because that was my first national TV appearance; I loved publishing my book because I worked hard on it and was proud of it; I love working with Chanel because it's a company of extraordinary people who do incredible work; I love finding skin cancers in their early stage; I loved being in the NY Times the first time because I am a New Yorker and my grandpa read it from cover to cover every day. 

Passover is coming up. What traditional Passover foods are worst for your skin? Which ones are best?
There are no Passover foods that are necessarily bad for skin!  Foods high in antioxidants are good for the skin - dark chocolate covered matzah is my favorite and dark chocolate has antioxidants in it - just eat it in moderation!

Any advice for us stress-prone Dukies?
Try hard to get enough sleep!  We heal and lay down new memory during sleep.  Without enough sleep, most people become irritable, cannot deal with stressors as well, don't perform as well on exams, and get sick much more easily.  I never pulled an all-nighter at Duke because I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate well the next day.  It's important to have a good balance of work and leisure time.  Take care of yourself - connect with friends, take a walk outside, exercise, wear sunscreen, and don't smoke!


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IHouse 50th Anniversary - World Music Night

I hesitated at the threshold wondering, ‘Is this the right place?’ Then a group of smiling faces greeted me and I was welcomed into the Duke International House family. That was four years ago, at the IHouse Intl Spouse / Partner Orientation. As I was reminiscing thus, SangHee’s voice brought me to the present with a ‘Hello everyone, Good evening!’ It was World Music Night, part of the 50th anniversary celebration of IHouse, where we were treated to eight wonderful performances and (you guessed it!) a quiz.

‘To me, music is like breathing’ – Huda Asfour, (postdoc, Biomedical Engineering department) got the show started with an Arabic song accompanied by the rich notes of the Oud (Arabic instrument) that she played. Next performance was her own composition that conveyed the feeling of ‘being unsettled’. You can listen to more of her songs here.











‘To me, music is a means of expressing my thoughts and emotions’ – Bryan Somaiah, (undergraduate, Trinity College) got the attention of the audience with his sweet voice, simple lyrics and soft notes of the acoustic guitar.
‘Music is energy for life’ – Duke Dhoom (dance team of undergrads and grads) took to the dance floor with a spring in their step. Their performance was so energetic and lively that we had to grip our seats to stop ourselves from getting up and dancing.

World Music Quiz – Lisa Giragosian (IHouse) tested the audience on their knowledge (in my case, ignorance) of world music by playing songs from different countries. Needless to say, the closest I got was identifying the continent from which the music came. So, no prizes for me.

‘To me, music is happiness’ – Pratiksha Sharma (Undergraduate ’18) sang a Nepalese song about unrequited love, in her soothing voice.

IHouse Divas – Annette Moore, Li-Chen Chin held the audience spellbound with their mellifluous rendering of ‘The Round of Leprechauns’ and ‘Tap Dancer’ on the flute and clarinet.

‘To me, music is the Food for Soul’ – Rimli Sengupta (spouse of Duke postdoc), in keeping with the season, harmonized a melody about the onset of spring, followed by an emotional English song ‘Leaving on a jet plane’. Her voice touched us gently like a breath of fresh air.

‘Music is happiness and passion’ - Devil’s Reject (undergraduates) had the audience clapping to their A Capella singing of popular songs like ‘Are you coming to the tree’ and ‘I’m Yours’.

Racemates – Duke Indie Rock and Progressive Folk band played some great music for us. Check out their facebook page for more info. Special thanks are due to them for managing the sound system, the entire evening.

Thank you IHouse, for the musical jamboree and for reminding us that: ‘Music is the universal language of mankind’ – H W Longfellow.


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Academic Advising Model for Trinity College

Dear Parents,

Duke students are empowered to learn and encouraged to lead. Ensuring student success through active support is our highest priority. A Duke education is based on the principle that students develop and grow intellectually and personally through successive, transformational, and diverse learning experiences.

At Duke, a community of mentors surrounds each student. A student has an academic dean, an academic advisor, an advisor in the major, a career counselor, a financial aid counselor, and many other advisors to guide them as they explore the innovative course of study in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

We believe that it is important for students to have continuity and direction throughout their years of intellectual growth, achievement, and success at Duke. Therefore, we are forging a stronger, more enduring relationship between students and their academic dean.  

Under the new model, students will have the same academic dean to oversee academic progress for the duration of their academic career at Duke. Each student will work with an academic dean in selecting classes, majors, and other educational opportunities. Trinity College academic deans help assess choices to ensure they are the best fit for a student’s long- and short-term success. Academic deans interpret and implement academic policies, and they are available when challenges arise to help achieve resolution. In addition, the academic deans respond to questions from academic advisors, act as a liaison with each student’s major department, and are experienced in answering a wide range of questions. Academic deans engage in the high-impact advising that students may need from time to time.

Academic deans also celebrate success by recognizing students who make the Dean’s List and connecting them with other opportunities like the Undergraduate Research Support Office and the Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship program. They also help students navigate graduate and professional school opportunities. Trinity College academic deans improve the process of exploration and discernment. We want each student to have one person they can consistently turn to for guidance over the course of their studies in order to ensure an amazing Duke experience.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have on March 31st at 11 a.m. EST in a webinar that you can access here (on this page, you'll be prompted to give your name and e-mail address, and in the event password field type "dukeparents"). I look forward to engaging with you in a deeper discussion on these important and exciting changes we are making at Duke.

Yours Sincerely,

Lee D. Baker


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Duke Parents Sound Off

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta welcomed Duke Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) members’ thoughts on a recent Slate article involving the debate on college students as children or adults. The article sparked some insightful comments from a multitude of perspectives, as seen below.

Steven Crain, parent of a Class of 2016 student, offered his thoughts on freedom of speech on college campuses:

“In this case, while reasonable limits on “freedom of speech” need to be established in order to protect the rights of others (including freedom to focus on the planned lesson in a classroom, or to not be harassed by insensitive members of a community), we all need to aspire to create a deeper awareness of this inevitable dilemma between “my freedom” and how it impacts on others.”

Beth Gabay, parent of a Class of 2016 student, commented on diversity and student self-efficacy:

“Diversity, tolerance and community are such important keys to a successful university education.  We are all evolving with this ever-changing world that we live in.  We all need to be present and take responsibility for our actions.  It is also so important that we teach our students/children to own their actions and behaviors and not entitle them when they fall.  Consequences are important in the building blocks of life.”

Daphna Gans, parent of a Class of 2018 student, spoke on a generational change in the traditional young adult and how we can support them:

“There is almost no doubt that there has been a shift in the life course in the past few decades leading to a phenomenon professionally termed as the prolongation of adolescence. The lengthening of adolescence, also referred to as "the incompletely launched young adult syndrome", suggests that the period of childhood dependency is elongated. Because of various economic trends and the increasing importance of higher education, young adults may need to spend more time in the education system and delay the start of their career and family formation.”

"At the college level, the focus of the discussion, I think, should be, on how we can help this cohort and provide them with what they need to become successful and contributing adults in the society. Thinking about what we, as a collective group of parents, should have, or could have done differently, may help future cohorts.”

Steve Kaplan, parent of a Class of 2018 student, commented on student growth and encountering diverse populations:

“They are young adults because they are expected to exhibit the responsibility and discretion of an adult, yet show the impulsiveness and poor decision making of youth.  For me the challenge is how to help them bridge that gap.”

“On college campuses today, particularly those that have embraced diversity, I believe there is another set of challenges – depending upon one’s background (race, religion, nationality, gender identification) there may be very different views as to what is proper in the collegiate arena, and also in society.  No doubt administrators and faculty struggle with this, but it also poses challenges for students too as they meet students who are different from those they have known in their first 18 years of life, and also spend time in environs different from what they are familiar with.”

Continue the conversation! Share your thoughts in the comment section below.



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Even in Spain, I'm Reminded of Duke

Spain. El extranjero. Of course things are different here. But halfway through my semester, I find myself noticing similarities to the gothic wonderland. Here are a few of my observations on the subject…

1) At Duke, people run to make the bus. Here, the students run for the trains. (And like Dukies, are well acquainted with the doors shutting in your face.)

2) Here, too, there is construction everywhere. (Look familiar?)

3) Students here also love coffee. So much that you can get fair trade brew out of a vending machine. Yes. A vending machine. Duke, step up your game!

4) It’s not just in the Blue Zone where people find creative ways to make the most of the space in a parking lot. How did they even get out of the car with that tree right there?

5) Also similar is the random, weird-looking cats wandering around—like the ones that live on West. Where do they come from?! And why do they look at you like that, like they know something. Watching...

6) The Duke Chapel ain’t the only striking church at night.

7) Spanish sports fans know how to dress for the occasion. (Perhaps they learned from us Blue Devils?)

8) They take my breath away. I was walking around the other night and it hit me, as it often does (but not often enough) on campus: I am so very lucky to be here.


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Sharing Stories of Mental Illness

“I don’t know how you do this for a living, listening to people’s problems all the time.”

I hear this comment from clients all the time, especially after a session with a lot of tears and overwhelming feelings of discouragement. As an audience member during a DSG-hosted event, STAND UP TO STIGMA: A Student Panel on Mental Health and Mental Illness at Duke, I realized how vividly accurate my standard response to the statement about how I “do this for a living” truly is.

This was not a program on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, or a presentation the prevalence rates of these problems. It was an arena for sharing stories about living, an offering of what living life is like living with depression. Living with anxiety. Living with disordered eating.  Living with addiction. Living with ADHD. Living with PTSD.

These were their stories. These were their lives. They shared what it means to live with the various colliding realities of life: coping with tragedy, surviving the brutality of sexual assault, carrying the relentless expectations associated with high achievement, emerging from the terrified actions of adoring loved ones or healing from the disorienting rejection of loved ones, trying to emerge from the despairing apathy of depression that robs you of the will to live, dealing with the exhaustion of maintaining focus with a mind that cannot stop paying attention to everything, coming to terms with the loss of self that is occurs when an addiction has formed (quite likely from attempts to cope with disruptive collisions and lonely realities, such as these).

As a health professional, I often wonder if, perhaps, what maintains stigma isn’t the struggle itself, but the over-simplification of what it’s like to live with a struggle. I imagine there are those who did not attend the panel assuming it would be a program of students simply spilling their problems into a public arena.

The students who spoke defied that notion. Their stories disrupted the assumption that mental illness is a phenomenon that completely defines those who struggle with these problems. They shared their most difficult hours. They shared wisdoms they learned about how to survive, and how to thrive. They acknowledged their vulnerability. They shared strategies on how to cope. They talked about leaning on friends and family. They talked about using professional resources from DukeReach to CAPS to the counselors at the Women’s Center. They expressed gratitude for the caring found all around them.

They shared with spontaneous tears and laughter, with wisdoms that slipped off their tongues, and with simple expressions of love for each other and the people in their lives… and anyone in the audience who might have needed more of that support.  

On that night, I wasn’t offering therapeutic experiences.  I was having one, sitting there listening to all these truths. Thank you to the students who shared their experiences. Thank you for making the mental illness struggle human. Thank you for allowing us to bit more human, to be more comfortable with our complex selves in a world that sometimes tries to mold us into something much less intricate.

So when someone says to me, “I don’t know how you do this for a living, listening to people’s problems all the time,” my answer is that I don’t think of it as listening to people’s problems, actually. What I do for a living is a gift to me because I get to listen to people’s stories, and like any rich novel or excellent film or enriching play, song, or painting…it has the main characters going through some difficult experiences that are part of an intricate and beautiful life. I get to be a part of that, which is a pretty good way to earn a living.

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Happy (almost) Passover! In honor of the Passover tradition, we’re tacking on a fifth question: what makes JLD’s Passover so special?

Well for starters, Jewish Life at Duke will be offering free Seders at the Freeman Center on both the first and second night of Passover. Many students who are looking for a traditional Passover experience attend these Seders with the larger Duke community. Throughout the holiday, the Duke community can go to the Freeman Center for kosher-for-Passover meals. Other locations on campus have kosher- for-Passover dining options for those Dukies who can’t make it over to Freeman during the week.

But for students who might want to embrace the holiday in their own way, JLD offers the opportunity to host their own Passover Seders. Providing funding, food, haggadahs, supplies, and training, JLD prepares students to bring the Passover tradition to their own campus homes. In recent years, over 650 students took part in at least 17 Seders on campus!

Students get super creative, hosting Seders with themes such as a ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Freedom’, or ‘Rainbow (LBTQ)’. Students sometimes even cook their Passover dinners from scratch in their dorm kitchens; the commitment it takes to make tzimmes over a communal hot plate is impressive!

Other students join with their friends, sororities and selective living groups to have a small Seder within their own Duke families. The past couple of years, I myself co-hosted Seders for my sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. We picked food up from Freeman, then brought it back to Central Campus where we all set up together in the dorm. Having my sisters gathered around the common room, celebrating the holiday with me, quelled any homesickness I might get around the holidays because I realized: I was home!

The first time I decided that I wanted to help lead a Seder, I was nervous – what if I got the prayers wrong? What if I told guests to eat the Charoset before they dipped the Karpas in salt water? Luckily, Jewish Life at Duke helped me to feel comfortable and competent. We upheld many of the traditions and parts of the Seder I grew up doing, from pouring a glass for Elijah to searching for the afikomen. It was also an awesome way for the non-Jewish members to experience a Seder. It may not have been a flawless Seder, but everyone was together in celebration and made it all work.


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There’s An App for That-But Should I Use It?

Have you noticed that now-a-days there appears to be a mobile app for everything: one to monitor our sleep, our exercise, our diet, our breathing, our heart rate and so on and so on.  But the question begs, just because the app exists, is it really always in our best interest to use it? As dietitians we hear a lot about calorie and physical activity tracking apps, so we’d like to review a few of the more popular ones. Important point to remember is that both diet and exercise are behaviors, which are not typically tracked using numbers: mindfulness, hunger/satiety, feelings; whereas apps tend to be all about “the numbers”; calories, fat, protein, carbs, sugar, time spend exercising, intensity of exertion, number of days, minutes, hours etc.  Just because the numbers “hit” your target, doesn’t mean you’re engaging in healthy behaviors. It’s important to try to create healthy behaviors and habits that are long lasting, not just for immediate gratification.  

1.       My Fitness Pal-Tracks food intake and exercise and is focused on weight loss. Estimated calories burned during exercise are added to “daily allowed calories”.  Allows users to connect with a community for support, which is an important predictor of long term success (healthy support system).  Concerning is that exercise becomes a reward to eat more or leads one to believe that you’ll lose more weight the more you do, which is not necessarily true. Weight loss is complex and doing more and eating less, doesn’t always lead to more weight lost. Be careful not to set goals that are unattainable, especially long term.

2.       Lose It!-Very similar to MFP in that it is primarily for those who want to lose weight (just like the name!) but also tracks some other nutrients beside the regular carbohydrates, protein, and fat, such as cholesterol, sodium, sugars and fiber.  This app also includes a social aspect. This app might be appropriate for someone wishing to increase fiber or lower saturated fat intake to reduce cholesterol, but as with any weight loss app, be careful with weight loss goals.

3.       Recovery Record-Target audience are those struggling with disordered eating, but can be used by anyone.  This app uses no “numeric” values but rather focuses more on “mindfulness” of meal timing, balance as well feelings and emotions. Users can collaborate with their treatment team (dietitian, therapist, MD) if the practitioners also have the app. 

4.       Couch to 5K-This is a physical activity app that gives the user a specific fitness plan to work up to running a 5K.

5.       Health Watch 360-This app not only allows the user to track food and exercise, but over 500 conditions and symptoms (sleep, anxiety, etc.). Most comprehensive of all the apps which is a nice way of reminding us that there is more to “health” than just eating and exercise.

While some number tracking can be helpful for a short period of time to increase awareness of certain behaviors; i.e how much one eats based on “energy intake” or how much you are moving (steps), these apps are very detail-oriented and can cause someone to micromanage food and/or physical activity, which is not the goal.  If focusing on diet and exercise is preventing you from getting sleep or going out with friends (because you’ve already eaten your day’s quota), it’s time to move away from the app and reconnect with the bigger picture.

Unsure of what to eat? At Duke you can take advantage of meeting with one of the dietitians at Student Health-it’s covered by your health fee.  If you’re not inclined to do that, then just be wise to the fact that apps may be fine, temporarily, in conjunction with other behavioral changes, but using apps exclusively to make changes may not get you the results you wish.



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Student Events Calendar for March 2015, provided by the Student Organization Resource Center

Each month the UCAE Student Organization Resource Center provides a promotional calendar of upcoming student organization events. All published events have been registered via DukeGroups Event Registration for greater than 30 days. 


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Speaking Up for Yourself - IHouse CLG workshop

“What does it mean?” asked one of the participants at the CLG Workshop on Speaking Up for Yourself hosted by Seun Bello Olamosu, IHouse where Dr. Gary Glass and Brandon Knettel, Intern, from CAPS made a presentation about communication strategies.

When somebody ‘steps on your toes’ do you just grin and bear it?

Why do you hesitate to speak up?
Cultural Differences and Gender Influences
In American culture, the concept of “self” is valued. People like to talk about their accomplishments, express their emotions and they may not hesitate to challenge authority or just ask for what they need. But other cultures may place more value on humility, being less expressive and respect for authority. Further, lack of clarity about gender roles can make it more complicated.

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
Sometimes, people may treat you differently because of your racial or ethnic background. Is it “discrimination” based on bias or because they respect differences and want to put you at ease.

If speaking up is difficult, writing could be more so because there are so many things to think of like grammar, spelling mistakes and striking the right balance between sounding passive and assertive.

How can you overcome your inhibitions and speak up?
Understanding Conflict
Conflict can be “A Tool used to improve Relationships”. There is a saying in my country – “Fire can be used to light a lamp or burn down the house”. This is true of conflict too. If it is not used the right way, it can end up hurting everybody.

“The enjoyment of what you KNOW to be TRUE about YOU”. And, using that knowledge about you, to manage different situations at work and home.

How Do You Speak Up for Yourself – Effectively / Respectfully?
1.    Assess whether to assert yourself: Evaluate the situation - Is this the right time? What would be the consequences of speaking up or not speaking up?
2.    Identify what you want to assert: Figure out what is wrong with the situation and what is to be done to change it.
3.    Confidence Cycle: Rehearse, Implement, Evaluate, Correct or Adjust as Needed.

Communicate Your Needs
Express your needs using “I” statements like, “I would like it if you” rather than blaming the other person like, “You never do”.

Conflict is a Tool
Use conflict effectively to understand the other person and to help them understand you better.

Coming back to the question asked at the beginning of the workshop, I realized that Dr. Glass had not only answered it but in the process, he had given us a practice lesson in speaking up for ourselves.

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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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An Interesting Day in White Lecture​

I strolled through the giant wooden doors of White Lecture out of the blistering cold on a typical Friday afternoon, took a seat in the back rows of the room, and pulled out my notepad to take notes. The first thing I heard was “Masisi sal is a Haitian word that means faggot”.

The event consisted of a series of presentations by various professors on Black studies about different topics related to the common theme of Black Artfulness and Survival. Thomas DeFrantz, professor of the African and African American Studies Department at Duke, did a presentation on the art of Black social dance as tactic of Black resistance and survival.

Throughout history, Haitians have been subject to negative stigmatizations from the international community, particularly from European powers. As a response, Haitians began conducting social dances as a means of resistance to these negative depictions through positive self-expression. Thomas DeFrantz further explained these types of social dances in extreme detail. One social dance example he provided was Bone Breaking, a style of dance that comprises of combined, rhythmic movements of waving, tutting, and gliding.

Bone Breaking is a very powerful method of black expression and has widely transcended across the Caribbean and the continent of North America. Bone breaking evolved from Jamaican street dance, known as bruk-up, in which dancers mostly performed the dance to reggae and dancehall music. Overtime, the culture migrated to the North America, particularly to major cities such as New York City, and became heavily integrated into African American hip-hop culture in which the dance became more commonly known as Flexing.

The next presentation I witnessed was performed by Sherronda Brown, who mainly focused on the connection between Blacks and the apocalypse. I must say that I was truly bedazzled by the information that I was hearing. She talked about how institutional violence regenerates in the apocalypse and inadvertently dehumanizes and abject Black people which she describes as zombification. She depicts slaves as zombies that rise against their masters and lead other slaves to freedom with an intention of dismantling the established institutional system. Finally, she concludes that Black bodies never become human and that zombies reflect the ideology that Blacks are not human creatures and instead are beasts and savages who are socially dead.

I left that event as a different person. I had never thought about the Black experience in that way before. I am truly glad that I attended.​

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The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist

For those who regard the Civil Rights Movement as a decade long, predominantly male driven movement that started with Ms. Parks’ dauntlessness and culminated with Dr. King cheering “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last,” Malcolm X is the anti-King. For those who don’t know, Malcolm Little, turned Detroit Red, turned Malcolm X and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was nothing more than a teenage delinquent who grew up to preach racism and violence. To others, he was a Muslim minister, Pan-Africanist, and human rights advocate who was militant in his viewpoints, but only because he believe the government failed to fulfill the social contract to protect Black Americans.

Fifty years to the day of his assassination, this generation largely regards Malcolm X as the former, if they know him at all. Obliviously, we champion figures like Angela Davis, Assata and Tupac Shakur, and Mos Def, without even realizing that those individuals would be nothing without Malcolm X’s influence. With that being said, he deserves the same recognition that has been given to the idols of the Civil Rights Movement. Had it not been for Malcolm X, Cassius Clay would have not been able to “sting like a bee.” Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale would not have understood Black Nationalism and Public Enemy would not have known what it meant to be “Too Black, Too Strong.” His legacy has endured, but his name has since largely been forgotten.

Aside from his feats as an advocate, the conference sought to humanize Malcolm X, to take him out the militant activist perspective and depict him a just a man. His self-assured and professional demeanor was just the surface. He was a different man before prison and a different man after his pilgrimage to Mecca. Malcolm X believed in humanity and unity to combat oppression. During a time that mirrors the racial turmoil of the 1960s, Malcolm X is a role model for Black togetherness. "There can be no black-white unity until there is first some black unity…We cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves.”​

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Black Love

“Black Love”

On the night of February 11, #BlackDuke all joined for the annual “Black Love” event. Well known in the black community, “Black Love” is endeared by many as an opportunity to discuss the perils of finding a “bae” in the Duke community. Discussed topics ranged from the hook-up culture, interracial dating, off-campus cuffetry, and how academic stresses can stifle a dating culture. For me, though, the narrative I fully expected was lacking from the discussion. Given that I can count approximately 3.5 couples in the entire black community, all heterosexual, in a community as rich with attractive individuals and diversity of sexuality as Duke’s black community, it is absolutely astonishing to me that so few people are “cuffed,” or even remotely considering the pursuit of cuffetry. Literally no one has a Valentine; it’s ridiculous. And since loneliness seems to characterize our community’s bae relations so accurately, I expected someone to cogitate the reasoning for this fascinating phenomenon, or at least bring it up as having been their experience in on-campus boo searches at “Black Love.” I misjudged.

On one hand, when I hear “black love,” I’m reminded of a shackling and oppressive history of black enslavement, and I think what besides a supreme love for a Divine Creator and community support could have helped our ancestors come to terms with the plight they had been subjected to against their wills? More contemporarily, “black love” makes me think of George and Wheezy. Florida and James. Raven and Eddie. (I’m deliberately leaving out the couple that had been my locus of understanding what black love could look like and be, because I’m sick of the husband telling me where on my gluteus maximus I’m allowed to wear my pants AND because that marriage was annulled in my consciousness the moment I discovered that the freakin’ obstetrician had “a thing” for violating women). Juxtaposed with those flowery and arguably unrealistic depictions of black love on television, however, is the seeming reality, both in the Duke community and in the black community in general—nobody is freaking cuffed! Why?

If I may venture a guess, I think that there are quite a few contributing factors to the phenomenon of general baelessness in our black community. For starters, you have to consider the type of black kids who are coming to Duke—mostly middle to upper-middle class; very respectable; having, for the most part, been to the best high schools and preparatory programs in the country. In effect, you have put 800 black valedictorians in an overwhelmingly white space, all of which have been convinced by their parents that exceptional negritude is fundamental to black success and is ideologically unproblematic. Some of us are a bit nerdy or socially awkward, but just about all of us have been told that we are “hot stuff,” contributions to the race—“uplifters”—for as long as we can remember. And yet, many of us have had difficulty navigating race relations, since our respectability made us “too white” for black spaces, and our melanin always made us stand out in white ones. I’d like to posit that that complex scaffolds an environment controlled by pride, formed out of black students’ scorn for their racial pasts. An environment of pride makes genuine, authentic interactions with other black students difficult to come by (to say the very
least). Pride stifles trust and vulnerability, the undeniable building blocks of any successful relationship (platonic or otherwise).

The same phenomenon doesn’t exist in our interactions with whites, I’d imagine, because they landlord the spaces we’re being allowed to rent, like the college environment—the spaces were not made for us, and no has blueprinted a re-model to accommodate our needs and preferences. And yet, we know how valuable the real estate is, and can’t forget how long the waitlist of exceptional negros is behind us; but, I digress. My interest is in deconstructing the environment of pride, such that we facilitate the kinds of loving interactions we’d like to see… (To be continued)​

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Cold and snow no deterrent for Duke’s Greek community

Sigma Chi Beta Lambda brothers beautify Durham with Keep Durham Beautiful

Heedless of the snow and ice on the ground, 24 enthusiastic Duke students turned out last Saturday to spread mulch and stake trees along Main Street with the nonprofit Keep Durham Beautiful. Students were members of Sigma Chi Beta Lambda fraternity and Chi Omega sorority. Other partners helping on the snowy day were City Urban Forestry and City-County Sustainability Office.

Read more.


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Alumni Spotlight Meet the Freemans

The Freeman siblings then (at Heath's Bar Mitzvah) and now
The Freeman Center for Jewish Life is the hub of Jewish life at Duke University. The Freeman Family Program Fund is generously underwriting this year’s Bar Mitzvah Program. Get to know the fund's founders, Danyelle (T’96), Amanda (T’98), and Heath (T’02), as they sit down with Tori Cohen (T'15) to discuss their parent’s legacy, Duke basketball, and “epic” bat mitzvah hair-dos.

How did your interest in Duke begin? What made you all decide to attend?
Danyelle: As the oldest, I was the first to visit Duke, during my junior year of high school. I fell in love the minute I stepped foot on campus. It's such a wonderfully diverse school set in the South, which was so unique to me at the time. Not to mention the allure of the basketball team!
Amanda: I decided I wanted to go to Duke when Christian Laettner hit that crazy buzzer beater shot against Kentucky in 1992. My interest in the school was piqued. I was really drawn to the fact that it was a “work hard, play hard” school. I loved the combination of strong academics, strong sorority/fraternity scene and school spirit. Best decision I ever made.
Heath: Our family fell in love with the school [once Danyelle began attending] and the rest was history. The academics, social atmosphere, and athletics are truly unmatched. Oh - and the weather! And Amanda, I never realized that's what sold you. You know I own Laettner's jersey from that game ("The Shot")?!!

Were you active in Jewish life on campus when you were a student? What groups or activities were you involved with as a student?
D: When I was at Duke back in 1992, there was no Jewish center…. We had services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the basement of a church. There was no real Jewish community [at Duke] and no Jewish life to speak of, which is exactly why my parents took such an interest in creating one. It's truly amazing that Jewish life is thriving at Duke today and I'm so proud that my parents had so much to do with it.
A: I wasn't active in Jewish Life either. First, there really wasn't much opportunity to be active. Without a center, Jewish life was pretty non-existent. We grew up in a more culturally Jewish than religious home. I did as much as I could to carry that on while in school by attending services in the basement of the Bryan Center and holding at-home Seders with friends. My social life centered on my sorority, Tri-Delt.
H: The Freeman Center opened in the first half of my college career, so I wasn’t super active in Jewish Life while at Duke. I played football (Field Goal Kicker) and was in a fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, and that took up most of my free time outside of academics.

Could you tell us a bit about your career and life now?
D: I'm a food writer. About 10 years ago, I launched a blog called Restaurantgirl.com, a website that covers the New York restaurant scene. Two years later, I became the chief restaurant critic for the New York Daily News. I was the first blogger to become a critic for a major publication and the very first non-anonymous critic in country. I also published a book called Try This: Traveling the Globe without Leaving the Table, with Harper Collins. It’s like a cheat sheet to the world's cuisines, from British to Thai, Vietnamese, and everything in between. Right now, I oversee my food blog, consult with restaurants and food brands, and raise my daughter and stepson. I also invest in food and tech-related ventures, which is a huge opportunity nowadays.
A: I am the Founder and CEO of SLT (Strengthen Lengthen Tone). I own nine boutique-fitness studios in the New York City area that offer a challenging, sweaty, and fun workout that combines the best elements of Pilates with cardio and strength training. I am also the co-founder of Sweaty Saturday, a fitness industry non-profit that raises money for Partnership for a Healthier America. I'm a serial entrepreneur with a particular focus on health and wellness.
H: I’m a founding member and President of Alden Global Capital, a $1.7 billion investment firm focused on opportunistic and distressed investing. [Right after I graduated] I worked for Peter J. Solomon Company, a boutique investment bank specializing on mergers and acquisitions, restructurings and refinancing.

Besides Jewish Life at Duke, what other ways are you involved with Duke as an alum?
D: Jewish Life at Duke is my primary focus at Duke for now. I want to devote all of my energies to it.
A: I heart Duke...a lot! I am always happy to do what I can to help out Duke. I am on the Duke NY alumni board, I host annual cocktail parties at my apartment for alumni to meet and mingle, and I've participated in relevant industry and women's focused panels.
H: The Freeman Center for Jewish Life is my main passion/focus/involvement. More recently, I have been working on ways to get more involved with Duke Football, its current players and alumni.

You recently established the Freeman Family Program Fund. What inspired you to create this?
D: We're very excited and proud to launch this program, so that we can really get behind specific programs that we're passionate about. As a family, we hope to effect change and make things better for generations to come. As a new mom, that's extremely important to me, and I hope one day my children will be a part of the Freeman Center for Jewish Life.
A: We wanted the ability to fund programs that mean a lot to us personally and those that we think will really benefit Duke students and alumni.
H: Our goal is that the programs we’re supporting will change the lives of the people who participate. In the coming year, we are supporting JFAM, which is a kind of buddy system for Jewish freshmen, the Bar Mitzvah program, and the student-hosted Seders. We plan to grow the number of programs considerably in the near future. Stay tuned!

In the spirit of the upcoming Jewish Life at Duke Bar Mitzvah, what was the theme of your Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
D: Truth be told, I hated my Bat Mitzvah! I had a cheesy carnival theme and my hair was epic. Oh how I wish I had the chance to do it all over again! What a wonderful idea the Freeman Center Bar Mitzvahs are!
A: My Bat Mitzvah theme was "movies." Décor elements included a giant marquee, lots of video cameras, film reels and lots of black and white. The tables were named after my favorite movies and the sign in board looked like old school film.
H: My theme was Heath Bar (not very original). I did have two of my favorite athletes at the time make appearances, Pat Kelly (Yankee Second Baseman) and Rodney Hampton (Giants Running Back).


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Flag of the Week - Zambia

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, in the south-central part of Zambia. The population is concentrated mainly around Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt Province to the northwest.

Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region was colonized during the Bantu expansion of the thirteenth century. After visits by European explorers in the eighteenth century, Zambia became the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, Zambia was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.

On 24 October 1964, Zambia became independent of the United Kingdom and then-prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the inaugural president. Kaunda's socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) maintained power from 1964 until 1991. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a single-party state with the UNIP as the sole legal political party under the motto 'One Zambia, One Nation'. Kaunda was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba of the social-democratic Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in 1991, beginning a period of social-economic growth and government decentralisation. Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's chosen successor, presided over Zambia from January 2002 until his death in August 2008, and is credited with campaigns to reduce corruption and increase the standard of living. After Mwanawasa's death, Rupiah Banda presided as Acting President before being elected President in 2008. Holding office for only three years, Banda stepped down after his defeat in the 2011 elections by Patriotic Front party leader Michael Chilufya Sata. Michael Sata died on October 28, 2014, the second Zambian president to die in office. Guy Scott was the interim president, until new elections that were held on 20 January 2015 elected Edgar Lungu as the 6th President.

In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia one of the world's fastest economically reformed countries. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is headquartered in Lusaka.


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Connected Cores

HK on J was a tremendous moment in time that we got to experience. The march was held in Raleigh and the air was filled with opportunity. We got the chance to speak out against a plethora of injustices and utilized it.  I was with the Duke NAACP and many other Duke students as we took to the streets with the NAACP banner and chanted out against marginalization of black bodies and the ways in which structures in NC and the US help devalue the lives of other oppressed peoples.

Then we were able to hear the many activists speak out against these injustices with a concluding speech given by the NC NAACP President Reverend William Barber. He spoke of the heart as being a core and related that to the fact that we have to use our hearts to have true compassion for the folks who experience these injustices and how the lack of that compassion was very dangerous in and of itself.  As we think about what this march really meant to us and what issues we could personally relate to, it is also important to realize why the people marching beside of us are marching as well. For as we think about our fight against injustice, if we forget about the reasons that others are oppressed in the process then the fight has meant nothing. 

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Is the Career Center for International Students?

As an international student, where do you feel connected on campus? My guess would be there might be a connection with iHouse as you have found ways to engage with other members of the international community or understand the US culture. Visa Services may be another office you readily identify with on campus as a supportive and necessary part of your experience.

If you haven’t thought of the Career Center as a place for you and a connection point, I hope I begin to convince you today.

The Duke University Career Center engages students and alumni in an ongoing examination and pursuit of what is meaningful and valuable in their lives. The Career Center provides opportunities for individuals to explore the intersection of their education, values, goals, skills and experiences in order to identify and realize their aspirations.

Read on for three ways that demonstrate how the Career Center can be a place for you.

Advocates for and Partners with International Students
We are advocates for international students. The Career Center is staffed with professionals who are excited to work with Duke students and whose goals simply stated are to help students—whether that be in a one-on-one appointment to help a student sift through their interests, a program detailing the best ways in which to interview or a Drop-in Advising session, where we go line by line through your resume.
We advocate for international students through discussions with employers. In speaking with employers about work authorization status, we discuss the value that international students bring to the workplace and encourage those employers to include international students in their pool of candidates.
You want strong advocates and partners for yourself as a student here at Duke. We encourage you to think about the Career Center being that for you!

Connections to Alumni Who Were International Students
In our work, the students who sit across from us in appointments one year are the alumni who have amazing careers and want to advise international students in the process in the years to come.  They are the Supply Chain Manager at Apple, Consumer Product Strategy Analyst at Bank of America, Logistics Analyst at Tesla Motors and Production Coordinator at PDI/DreamWorks Animation. When working with us, we can help connect you with alumni who were in your position and you can learn the lessons they have gathered in the process.

In a one-on-one discussion with a career adviser, you can learn how to connect with alumni (international and domestic) through resources such as LinkedIn, DukeConnect and your already established network.

Resources Online and in Print
Physical books are part of our Resource Library, which you can come review in the center or check out to review on your own.  In the Resource Library, one book in particular may be helpful to you in understanding the U.S. job market, Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the US. This book breaks down the U.S. Job Search for International Students and describes the “players” in the process—recruiters, hiring managers, other employees—to help you better understand where you should spend your time. The author provides real-life examples of international student and how they have been successful or unsuccessful in the U.S. market to prove his points. If you’re looking to better understand the U.S. job search, this is an excellent place to start.

Online Tools & Resources
The Career Center has a wealth of resources—online resources available that are available at all times. You’ll find 15 guides to help you navigate the job or internship search as well as write a cover letter and/or resume, for example.

You’ll find CareerBeam, a comprehensive tool to aid in assessing yourself and working through the process of your career search. You even have the ability to conduct an interview and record yourself to see what improvements can be made. 
GoinGlobal is a one of the online resources I think is particularly valuable to international students. It is a robust system that allows you to view information specific to certain countries or cities.  For example, if you know that you are interested in interning or working Atlanta, here is a sample of what I would learn from GoinGlobal:
H1-B Sponsoring Companies include AirWatch, TEK Services, Manhattan Associations, and a list of over 50 more.
Industry and Employment Trends show that Atlanta is increasingly becoming a tech hub and even tells the reader the number of jobs that certain companies are adding in this area.
• An Overview of the City
• The Cost of Living is 6.5% lower than the national average. A sample of bills are provided so you can understand common expenses and know the salary or hourly rate you would need.
• Professional and Social Networking groups let me know that if I were a student interested in journalism that the Atlanta Press Club, Inc. would be an organization of people with similar interests and provide events and educational workshops.
Cultural Advice about the South tells me about the history, people, food, vocabulary and dialect of a number of people in the region.
Log-in to view this resource and see its applicability for you. It can be helpful in the job/internship search or to simply know more about the different cities within the U.S. and specific countries around the world.

I hope I have made my case and convinced you—or at least created enough intrigue for you to want to know more. The Career Center is a place for you and we hope you will take advantage of this resource soon!

To schedule an appointment with the Career Center, please call 919-660-1050.


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Flag of the Week - Argentina

Argentina is a federal republic located in southeastern South America. Sharing the Southern Cone with its smaller neighbor Chile, it is bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north; Brazil to the northeast; Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east; Chile to the west and the Drake Passage to the south.

With a mainland area of 1,073,500 square miles, Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the second largest in Latin America, and the largest Spanish-speaking one. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

A historical and current middle power and a prominent Latin American and Southern Cone regional power, Argentina is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies and Latin America's third-largest. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, WBG, WTO, Mercosur, UNASUR, CELAC and OEI. Because of its stability, market size and increasing share of the high-tech sector, Argentina is classed by investors as a middle emerging economy with a "very high" rating on the Human Development Index.

The earliest recorded human presence in the area now known as Argentina is dated from the Paleolithic period. The Spanish colonization began in 1512. Argentina rose as the successor state of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a Spanish overseas colony founded in 1776. The declaration and fight for independence (1810–1818) was followed by an extended civil war that lasted until 1861, which ended with the country's reorganization as a federation of provinces with Buenos Aires as its capital city. From then on—while massive European immigration waves radically reshaped its cultural and demographic outlook—Argentina enjoyed an historically almost-unparalleled increase in prosperity: by the early 20th century it already ranked as the seventh wealthiest developed nation in the world. After 1930, however, and despite remaining among the fifteen richest countries until mid-century, it descended into political instability and suffered periodic economic crisis that sank it back into underdevelopment.​


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