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Humans of Duke Sanford

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

@duke_sanford | @dukeuniversity | #HumansofDukeSanford

I always knew that I look like my grandmother, but she does not look like a typical Armenian. I am Polish by birth but Armenian by heritage. My parents originally moved to Poland because of the collapse of Soviet Union. There was also war and after living in Poland for Read more
My name is Kyipyar. I am from Myanmar (formerly called Burma) which is situated between India and Thailand. I got a scholarship from Open Society Foundations to study in the MIDP program at Duke. For a decade or so, my professional experience has been in the humanitarian or international development Read more
My career goal is to make sure that people are ok; my purpose is to focus on marginalized communities to improve the lived experience. I am a native North Carolinian from Charlotte. I grew up in what society would term as the ‘ghetto’ – a marginalized community, a Black niche Read more
I was born to a conservative Muslim family in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. My father dropped out of college and started a hardware and paints business to make ends meet, and my mother never put her college education to use and settled to be a stay-at-home parent instead due to societal Read more
This job was created in part by students for students. My official title is Student Wellness and Engagement Coordinator, and my role serves students in the MPP and the MIDP program. On the wellness side I work one on one with students. I do personal sessions for mental health concerns, Read more
I coached basketball for 5-6 year old kids in Durham as a part of Coach2Inspire. It was the most fun I have had in such a long time. Watching them play is the best feeling in the world. Coming in to Duke, I wanted to major in economics, but I Read more
Musicians are creative, but they don’t have business training, so I gave them the tools to grow their communities. I started in sales planning and analysis, because I was good at negotiating and licensing band and brand partnerships. (Everyone likes free clothes, right?) I’d negotiate getting a band’s song in Read more
For me, there is not much difference between domestic and international policies. As a matter of fact, that is one conclusion I reached during this past summer while participating in the Humanitarian Track of the Geneva Program with Duke. It was a week of intensive learning, modules, role-playing, and networking. Read more
I was working for the migrant education program in my county where there was this little boy, and he shaped my entire life. He was an immigrant from Guatemala and when he first came to the US, he was living in a shed, sleeping on the ground, in a very Read more
"When I was a college student I did not have a lot of black teachers or people of color. I recognized that my own experience was not reflected in what I was being taught. I come from a mixed household, my dad is from the Ivory Coast, and my mom Read more
The tuba was not my first choice of instrument. I did not want to play the tuba. My sisters and I all played the violin. My older sister played the clarinet, another sister played the trombone … but in high school they needed more tuba players, and I’ve stuck with Read more
I realized I was gay at 13, thanks to European cinema. Then, at 18, when I went into college, I joined a queer group that became activists, and with them, I went to my first Pride parade in Peru. I was terrified of someone familiar seeing me. I put my Read more
About 17 years ago, my cousin came out as gay. I didn’t understand why family members were so emotional and serious about it. That’s when I discovered homophobia. Stirred to frustration because it seemed so illogical that anyone cared who someone else loved, I subsequently advocated for acceptance in a Read more
When my mother, a librarian, discovered my queerness through reading a Duke entry essay, she was concerned with the essay’s structure errors, rather than the revelation within the content. Out of mutual respect, she viewed me as an adult, which made the unintentional coming out so easy. My mother also Read more
I never understood coming out – it’s like stepping into a spotlight so people can put me in a box. I call myself queer, but I don’t care for labels. By coming out as a certain label, I feel we have to restrict ourselves to connecting with people under that Read more
Living most of my life in Seattle, I needed a change of geography. Sanford let me substitute the rain-filled Northwest for the sun-soaked Southeast. I chose Sanford to expose myself to policy areas and demographics that might be unique to the Southeast, and explore the intersection between civil liberties, social Read more
I grew up thinking if I had tattoos, I would have no political career, so I didn't get my first #tattoo until about age 23. A big reason why I started getting them was because they helped me heal from mental health issues. And ever since, I’ve not held back Read more
I’ve always been interested in sports. As an athlete (soccer, lacrosse), it’s challenging trying to adhere to both my religious needs and team requirements. I was always an outsider because of my headscarf and uniform adjustments, but if it meant playing the sport, I would make the necessary changes. A Read more
Before Sanford, I worked with Verizon in Hyderabad, India. One day, while stuck in a traffic jam, I had an existential moment: the work I was doing had no soul in it. It was limited to just outcomes and logic games; my work did not give me fulfillment. I soon Read more
I teach global health ethics as one of my classes. I open the classroom the first day by having the students talk about what a respectful classroom looks like to them. They are fantastic at bringing up [things like] noises someone might make — kind of a little laughter or Read more