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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 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
It always felt like national politics were local politics. I felt surrounded by it growing up in the DC area... it was always kind of in the background. And then, too, my parents are avid readers of The New Yorker, so that was always on the kitchen table, and I Read more
In my last semester of university, I met an entrepreneur who had a company that facilitates access to health care for indigenous women in Argentina. Me and a friend asked if we could pilot his idea in Colombia. That was the start of our company Bive. The initial idea was Read more
I went to #Ukraine in August 2018 for an education-focused Peace Corps program. I lived with a host family in a really small rural town within the province of Poltava Oblast – southeast of #Kyiv. At the time, I don’t think people here really knew much about Ukraine as a Read more
I immigrated to the U.S. in the early 2000's due to political conflict. I am Chin, an ethnic minority in #Myanmar, and we are persecuted. There is no means of education or moving up the social strata. So the only way that my parents saw a future for us was Read more
On this #internationalwomensday we're celebrating all of the amazing women in our Sanford community who've shared their stories with us. Read more
On January 2, 2021 I drove around Hilton Head Island, South Carolina looking for a “drawing set” to take up drawing as a new means of stress relief. One year later, it is hard for me to imagine my life without the outlet of visual art. My first piece was Read more
Have you been enjoying our #HumansofDukeSanford series of student stories related to #BlackHistoryMonth? Shoutout to the series curator, Hamza Mohamoud. Hamza is a master's student, and is the graduate student assistant in the communications office of the Sanford School of Public Policy here at Duke University. #MPP Read more
Growing up, I had to look after my younger siblings. The pressure of being the "example," while difficult, taught me a lot about myself and how I wanted to impact the world. This led me to work for an exciting school network in #Kenya and #SouthAfrica that focuses on developing Read more
Throughout my three years of teaching (two with Teach for America) I thought I wanted to go back to school and become a school administrator. Yet the more time I spent in the education sector, the more I realized its flaws and barriers to equitable change. I decided to forgo Read more
My time in the tech industry as a risk analyst for Meta Inc. (fka Facebook) made me fall in love with tech policy. That’s where Sanford came in; I wanted to attend a school that had a tech policy concentration and brilliant leaders to learn from. I am also honored Read more
In undergrad, I majored in Speech and Hearing Sciences to prepare myself for a career as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). I was passionate about advocating for patients, research, and diversifying the field, but I found I did not enjoy the clinical duties. I decided to take a break after graduation Read more