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Humans of Duke Sanford

Stories from the people who make up the community at the Sanford School at Duke University.

@duke_sanford | @dukeuniversity | #HumansofDukeSanford

I grew up in New York and I started playing tennis when I was three. We moved to the Charlotte, North Carolina area when I was about ten. I trained there for tennis and then got a bunch of offers from schools and chose to go to Elon University to Read more
I think everyone who teaches grows to love their students - you get really attached. I had one student who just loved math class. He used to email me and say, “Mrs. Pett, can you send me more math problems to do?” His family had immigrated from the Congo and Read more
When I was 9 days old, I was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, which is high pressure in the eyes that results in blindness if not treated. Glaucoma is also known as “the silent thief of sight” because a lot of people don’t know they have it until it causes a Read more
I was born asthmatic, and it has shaped my life. Growing up, I felt like a ticking time bomb. Every day was a privilege because I knew I could die at any time. My childhood was challenging because I’d see other people live normally, and wonder ‘Why couldn’t I?’ All Read more
I grew up with world maps and Atlas books as my toys. For a long time, I remembered all the capital cities (now I know maybe 90%...) Maps and memory are how I developed my global worldview while living in a conservative family and community. This early interest is what Read more
I’ve been adding “complete a half-marathon and marathon” to my New Year’s resolutions for as long as I can remember. I ran a half-marathon in 2022 that resulted in me vowing to literally never run long distance again. But at the beginning of 2023, when my dislike for running long Read more
Being part of the MPP Student Council last year was very defining for me. It was a great way to be involved with Sanford while getting to understand how Sanford plays a role within the broader Duke community. And it's really easy to kind of get sucked into the Sanford Read more
I’ve always just wanted to help people in the career I pursue. In high school, I found that environmental issues are something that I feel really strongly about. I came to Duke originally planning to double major in Public Policy and Environmental Science. But after taking classes at Sanford I Read more
“Go out there and make some mistakes today!” It’s been a huge adjustment stepping away from soccer and my role as a Division 1 midfielder. I played for Rice University as an undergrad, but I still apply the pregame advice my parents gave me at three years old. As a Read more
I am a first-generation student, so neither my parents nor my grandparents went to university. Sometimes people from lower-income countries, think we won't make it in the U.S. The education is so demanding or so difficult. But there’s a lot of potential in Bolivia, South America, Africa or Asia. That’s Read more
For a Veterans Day edition of Humans of Duke Sanford – we are sharing one of our favorite student stories, written for Sanford’s 2023 graduation. * Rusty Cotterman MNSP’23 is a warrior in every sense of the word. As a member of the Army's Third Special Forces he has been Read more
(Part 2 of 2) My biggest hope is Energy Week 2023 goes off without a hitch. I’m grateful to co-lead the project along with Carley Tucker, an MEM/MBA student. We've got undergrads, folks in the Nicholas School, fellow Sanford students. Seeing the team buy into the vision Carley and I Read more
(Part 1 of 2) Growing up in Wyoming gave me an immediate appreciation for nature. Living in a log cabin 70 miles from the nearest stop light, seeing bears in the summer, having our idea of a traffic jam be buffalo crossing, it was a special place. It made me Read more
When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Most medical professionals told my parents that I would never have a life of independence or anything remotely close to what I have now. Back in the early 2000s, there wasn't a lot of knowledge about what Read more
I’m pursuing a master's in divinity and public policy. The two programs complement each other well. At Sanford, everyone has interesting backgrounds and they're passionate about what they do. But more than passion, they're capable. That's what I love about Sanford. At the divinity school we are taught to do Read more
In Durham County, around 46,000 individuals have suspended or revoked licenses, often due to failure to pay tickets or appear in court for minor traffic violations. To explore the effects of driver’s license suspension and revocation for Durham residents, our Bass Connections team partnered with the Durham Expunction and Restoration Read more
Since I was little, I was just a happy-go-lucky kid. Seeing people hurt or in pain, even if it's just on the playground, always bothered me and I kind of wore that with people and wanted to help them. I got involved in church when I was in junior high, Read more
My dad immigrated to the US from Argentina, and my mom came from India – they were both children when they arrived and didn’t know English. I’ve been learning Spanish forever, but in my school growing up, language was an elective, it was not seen as a necessity like math Read more
This summer, I did Duke Engage through the Kenan Institute of Ethics in Chicago. The theme was connecting hip hop to community activism. Hip hop is critical for the Black and Brown movement and a way they're able to overcome social political issues. It was transformative experience for me because Read more
I’m a Visual Media Studies major going into my senior year of undergrad, so I'll graduate this spring. I've taken a bunch of classes through the DeWitt Wallace center, and I spend a lot of time in the hallways of the Sanford building. The summer after my freshman year I Read more