January 2016

On the Culture of Busyness

In the Baldwin Scholars application, we ask the question, “Based on your observations of Duke so far, what would you change?”  We want to gauge the students’ awareness of their environment and their potential as change agents.  Occasionally, the question will be volleyed back to the interviewers at the end of the interview.  “What would we change about Duke?”  My consistent response over the last few years refers to the culture of “busyness.”
Duke students tend to be busy every minute of every day, rushing from classes to meetings to homework for at least 18 hours a day, leaving no time to reflect on that day’s experiences or their relationships, or to simply sit quietly and breathe. 
I wonder if they are “so busy, crazy busy” to earn the respect and admiration of their peers.  Or if they are afraid to think about what might bubble to the surface if they allowed themselves time to think.
Tim Krieder, author of “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” asserts that busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness.  “Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”  He adds that idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence, or a vice.  “It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
As we begin a new calendar year, I encourage you to think about the way you spend your time.  Do you allow yourself time to do nothing? Are you concerned about how this will appear to others?
To use Kreider’s phrase, in 2016, I aspire to be the “laziest” ambitious person I know.

Colleen Scott

The Baldwin Scholars program partnered with 19 other campus offices and organizations to offer a sold-out lecture by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, in October.  The talk was inspiring, insightful, and challenging.

Ms. Cullors met campus student leaders for dinner beforehand and attended a reception for event co-sponsors following.
We have invited Anna Deavere Smith to be the 2016 Jean Fox O'Barr Distinguished Speaker.  Ms. Smith is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for her work at the intersection of social justice and theater.

"From Rodney King to Michael Brown: Anna Deavere Smith on the Narrative of Ferguson" will be held on Tuesday, March 8 at 7p.m. in Reynolds Theatre.

Tickets (free and required) will be available through the Duke Box Office beginning February 23.

We are grateful for co-sponsorship from the Muglia Family, Theater Studies, Women's Studies, the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, and Housing, Dining, and Residence Life-West.
Gifts to Baldwin

We thank the following individuals and corporations for believing in our mission and financially supporting our efforts.

Chaele Arkefeld, Class of 2012 Baldwin Scholar
Lindsay Bayham, Class of 2009 Baldwin Scholar
Benevity Community Impact Fund
Megan Braley, Class of 2008 Baldwin Scholar
Eric and Barbara Corwin Giving Fund
Corinne Horn, Class of 2011 Baldwin Scholar
Rebekah Johnston, Class of 2014 Baldwin Scholar
Anna Koelsch, Class of 2014 Baldwin Scholar
Andrea LaRue, T’87
Courtney Liu, Class of 2013 Baldwin Scholar
Leo and Gertrude Marantz Family Foundation
Meredith Metcalf, Class of 2009 Baldwin Scholar
Flora Muglia, Class of 2014 Baldwin Scholar
Awa Nur, Class of 2010 Baldwin Scholar
Peter and Rosamaria Stafford (parents of Class of 2017 Baldwin Scholar               Sofia Stafford)
Jeanne Tannenbaum, G’73
            In honor of Dr. Jean Fox O’Barr
Tammy Tieu, T’06
Alison (Perlberg) Wynn, Class of 2008 Baldwin Scholar
Class of 2019 Baldwin Scholars

Meet the twelfth class of Baldwin Scholars!  The class includes 17 Trinity students, one Pratt engineer, and one Varsity athlete.  The new Baldwin Scholars hail from nine states and five foreign countries.  Their interests include medicine, the arts, environmental issues, social justice, technology, and engineering.
Vanessa Agudelo is from Coral Springs, Florida.  She is a first generation college student with an academic interest in education.  She plays club soccer and is passionate about community service.  When asked what kind of leader she wants to be, Vanessa responded, “A game changer.”
Sini (Nina) Chen grew up in Hangzhou, China but attended high school with her twin sister in Omaha, Nebraska.  She is drawn to documentary studies, photography, and social change.  Nina asserts that she never had to struggle to be authentic until she came to the U.S.; she felt pressured to fit into a culture she didn’t understand.
Meng-Chen (Kelly) Chung hails from Yokohama, Japan but identifies as a “third culture kid.”  She participated in the Humanitarian Challenges Focus program and is thinking about transferring to The Pratt School for Environmental Engineering.  In the Project Search pre-Orientation program, she was voted “most likely to ask challenging questions.”
Daniela Flamini, from Coral Gables, Florida, attended an all-girls high school.  She is interested in journalism and has a history of political activism.  Daniela feels rewarded when her blog connects people. 
Ines Jordan-Zoob is from London, England.  Intellectually, she is interested in international relations, particularly related to Israel, and visual and media studies.  At Duke, Ines wants to strengthen her character and grow spiritually.  As an international student, she found the Duke social culture to be disturbing.
Mumbi Kanyogo, from Nairobi, Kenya, attended high school in Swaziland.  She is passionate about human rights and women’s activism in Africa.  The best compliment someone could pay her is with the statement, “You have done your country proud.”
Mia King hails from Mercer Island, Washington.  She is interested in computer science and has already completed a software engineering internship at Microsoft.  At Duke, Mia writes for The Standard, an innovative student-run digital publication, and participates in Business-Oriented Women (BOW) and Duke Debate.
Natalie Le is from Irving, Texas.  She is considering combining her Electrical and Computer Engineering major with either physics or computer science.  Natalie performs with Out of the Blue a cappella and is a tour guide for Undergraduate Admissions.
Marie Li is a local from Cary, North Carolina.  She also sings a cappella with Rhythm and Blue and is a first-year intern with Duke University Union.  She is still figuring out what she enjoys and cares about but knows when she finds her “thing,” she will not be able to be still.
Moreen Njoroge, is from South Plainfield, New Jersey, but born in Kenya, identifies as a Kenyan.  She wants to pursue a MD/PhD dual degree and is intellectually interested in neuroscience and computer science.  Moreen was selected as a Cardea Fellow, a Duke program designed to support pre-health students from under-resourced high schools.
Christiana Oshotse, a first generation college student from Atlanta, Georgia, is also a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Reginaldo Howard Scholar.  Her family moved back to Nigeria in her formative years and she sees herself returning there to address health disparities.
Rachel Rubin is from Fresno, California and the first student from her high school to attend Duke.  She is intellectually curious but has not yet identified her focus.  This semester, she completed a project with the University Archives, creating a 2015 version of “Design for a Duchess,” a pamphlet that was distributed to incoming women from 1954-62 that offers prescriptive advice for success that revolved more around dress than support resources.  Rachel is an enthusiastic member of the Ultimate Frisbee team on campus.
Claire Stout hails from Cranbury, New Jersey.  She participated in the Project WILD pre-orientation program and is involved with Duke Student Broadcasting, Ultimate Frisbee, and Blue Devils United.  Claire is passionate about women’s studies and math.
Jasmine Tan is from Singapore, but attended the United World College high school in Norway.  She is a University Scholar and a first generation college student.  Jasmine is interested in environmental policy, sustainable development and social entrepreneurship.
Edom Tilahun emigrated with her family from Ethiopia and eventually settled in Alexandria, Virginia.  Edom, a Gates Millennium Scholar, is passionate about the arts and social justice.  She describes feeling most confident after submitting a sculpture to the National Gallery competition with a costume/fashion theme.
Alejandra Uria was displaced by Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans to Houston.  She defines herself as an activist and wants to dedicate her career to race relations and policy.  At Duke, she is involved with Mi Gente and the Duke Student Government committee on social equity and outreach.
Sofiya Volobuyeva, from Knightdale, North Carolina, was introduced to activism through the Youth Organizing Institute and orchestrated a “die in” at her high school.  The dynamics and tension at this school forced her to tune into to race issues at an early age.  At Duke, Sofiya writes and performs with Inside Joke, the premiere sketch comedy troupe.
Karley Whelan, from Southampton, New York, is a Varsity rower.  She participated in the Project WILD pre-orientation program and is taking a pre-med curriculum at Duke.
Baldwin Scholars met with Dr. Valerie Ashby (center, in navy dress) in September.  Dr. Ashby is the new Dean of Trinity College.
Baldwin Alumna Spotlight

Class of 2013 Baldwin Scholar Courtney Liu (center, with flowers) with Baldwin Scholars after an August performance of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

She offers her reflections below.
Before I arrived at Duke, I had trained my entire life to become a ballet dancer and I was tired of struggling with disordered eating, chronic injuries, and an authoritative culture.  The breaking point came when the director at San Francisco Ballet School promised a scholarship to keep me from accepting a better opportunity in Hamburg.  Three months later, I was refused the scholarship because I “gained five pounds.”  In response, I staged a city-wide bake sale to raise tuition funds.  Long story short, 16-year old Courtney was in HUGE trouble with the San Francisco Ballet PR department and went home to Cincinnati in tears. 
If I had been a Baldwin Scholar then, the story with San Francisco Ballet would have ended differently… Baldwins have too much fight and fire in us.  However, at that time, ballet training had squished my personality and brains into a mold of obedience where I spoke only when spoken to and worked all day to be less than what I am…less body, less brain, less agency (#patriarchy). 
Fast forward one year to Duke and I was hell-bent on finding a career outside of dance.  Baldwin helped to dismantle the idea that my value was connected to my weight and I had an incredible time finding all the parts of myself that had been lost in the regimented lifestyle of ballet training. 
Like many students, I was overcommitted and sleep-deprived.  Bill, my career counselor, describes us as active 9-year olds at a buffet…sampling everything to the extreme!  Of course I had the normal nervous breakdowns of your average Duke student…but I was also happy and energized.  There was much to explore and discover and the sky was the limit!  There was no one telling me I couldn’t do something because of the shape of my hips or the size of my arms.  I felt strong with the women of Baldwin behind me as I grew comfortable in my body, built a tougher skin, and developed a critical eye for patriarchy and injustice in the world.  Four years later, I knew that the Baldwin Scholars Program had built a leader and agent of change, a formidable force capable of writing cover letters as brag-worthy as a tall, white frat boy.
Older and wiser, I knew the narrow path of ballet was not right for me so I decided to follow one of the five “acceptable” post-Duke graduation plans.  I did all the proper networking things and landed a job as a Research Project Manager for a heroin addiction study at Bellevue Hospital in New York. 
A few months into the job, I saw a posting for an audition for Phantom of the Opera and felt a deep desire to re-gain the ballet technique I had lost, but this time on my own terms.  My parents shipped old pointe shoes to New York, I found some weekend tutoring gigs to help pay for classes, and ran from the hospital to make it in time for ballet class every day.  Hungry for the chance to perform, I danced for many small contemporary and ballet companies and led a double life working at the hospital by day and as a quasi-professional dancer by night.  I was fairly happy with the balance but was frustrated that I could not attend auditions during the day.
In February, I took a short weekend trip to Duke and discussed the dilemma with Colleen over Marketplace lunch.  She suggested I negotiate flexible hours and one week later, I was attending auditions during the day and working at night. 
A year and a half later my dream came true…I made my Broadway debut at the Phantom of the Opera with Colleen, Donna Lisker, and the Baldwin Scholars in the audience.  It was such a miraculous moment!  I was filled with the belief that we truly can create our own lives and felt eternal gratitude for the many people who had helped along with way.
So how did we get there?  Putting aside all the talk of dreams and hard work and Broadway (insert flashing lights here)…the real truth is that the paths the world has drawn for us are limited, particularly for women.  I am not a dancer or a bookkeeper or a teacher, I am an entrepreneur who is crafting her own life.  And the the Baldwin Scholars program has supported me in this endeavor even before I knew I was doing it.
We must support each other in leading holistic lives, where professional titles and prescribed career paths are only a tiny facet of what makes each of us a force in this world.  Thank you to Baldwin for giving me the wings to fly and for helping rewrite this love affair with dance.  As is the life of a freelancer, I have no idea what I am doing next month but I trust and surrender to the unknown, knowing that I have a supportive community and the strength and power within to face any challenge that may come my way.  Happy 2016!  Let's make those wild and winding dreams come true.   
Congratulations to Rosanna Myers, Class of 2009 Baldwin Scholar, for being named to Forbes 30 Under 30!

Rosanna is the co-founder of Carbon Robotics, a company that builds a low-cost robotic arm (KATIA) that can be trained to perform tasks for individuals and light-industrial applications.
KATIA landed finalist recognition at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield and the team was recognized by Engadget as one of the Best Startups at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.
Carbon Robotics is also competing for the United Arab Emirates AI and Robotics Award for Good in the health sector. KATIA stands poised to help the elderly and disabled independently complete their daily functions. A million dollar prize is presented to the robotics project that will have the biggest impact for humanity. Carbon Robotics is one of 11 international companies that have been selected out of ~650 worldwide applicants. 
Rosanna notes, “So many people have contributed along the way -- sometimes rolling up their sleeves and putting in hours, sometimes giving us the hard advice we needed to hear, and sometimes just giving us a shoulder when they could see that's what we needed most.  Even when we're sleeping in the office for the third night in a row or sick for the fourth week in China, there's nowhere else I'd rather be than with my best friends working on the coolest, hardest project I can imagine.”
Rosanna and her business partner, Dan Corkum, won the high-tech track of the Duke Start-up Competition as undergraduates, developing an environmentally-friendly technology to chill water 120 times more efficiently.
Trisha’s Almond Toffee was started by my husband’s Aunt Patti in Dallas, Texas nearly 30 years ago.  Spreading through word of mouth and corporate gifting around the holidays, the business gained significant traction and a sizeable fan-base.  About 5 years ago, the workload became too much for Aunt Patti.  At that point, she called on my now-husband Jordan to take over the business.  He learned the recipe, revamped the packaging, and even put a refrigerator in his apartment bedroom to keep inventory on hand while working a full time job.   
When we started dating, Jordan sparked my entrepreneurial spirit by sharing the business with me.  I added a bit of creativity by adding flavors (the Dark Sea Salt Almond Toffee is my personal favorite addition) and a feminine touch in the bow tying department and we began to take on this adventure together. 
In 2014, we moved to Baltimore, Maryland when Jordan received a wonderful job opportunity at Under Armour.   After some soul searching and number crunching, I decided to explore what taking on the business full time would look like.  Since then I have expanded the business and distribution and sold over 10,000 pounds of toffee!
Trisha’s Almond Toffee is unlike any other toffee you have tried.  Made in small batches, we mix the almonds into the candy as it cooks.  This process is more laborious but when you bite down on our delicious candy, it does not get stuck in your teeth, most people’s main gripe with almond toffee. Once our candy hardens we generously slather chocolate on both sides and finish by sprinkling shaved almonds on top.   Gorgeous in presentation and dangerously additive, our toffee has been purchased and gifted for baby showers, wedding favors, holiday gifting, and shameless self indulgence!  
I am excited to continue to grow Trisha’s Almond Toffee and look forward to sharing this decadent almond treat with the world!

Brooke (Patterson) Russ, Class of 2010 Baldwin Scholar

Editor's note:  I have sampled this deliciousness and it is every bit as good as Brooke describes!
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