Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Allie Speidel


Allie Speidel

Allie grew up at the neighborhood pool.  There, in addition to strengthening her skills as a swimmer, she learned how to be a citizen in a tight-knit community.  It is not surprising to learn that she was a loyal and responsible member of her class of Baldwin Scholars.  Despite her demanding schedule as a varsity swimmer, she devoted the time necessary to develop close relationships with other Scholars, faithfully attend program events, and step into leadership roles when she saw the need for action.

Her busy extracurricular schedule, easy-going nature, and generous laugh may have charmed you into believing that she managed just to “get by” academically.  Quite the contrary!  Allie’s first priority was always her intellectual life.

Allie, who graduated with the Class of 2011, was a Biomedical Engineering major in the Pratt School of Engineering. She conducted scientific research through the Pratt Fellows program and submitted a paper on the effects of nanotopography for publication.  She excelled in mathematics and organic chemistry and was a tutor in high demand at Duke. 

Allie also participated in the Collegiate Athlete Pre-medical Experience (CAPE) at Duke Medical Center’s Tisch Brain Tumor Center, shadowing physicians in clinical and surgical settings, learning how to take patient histories, and processing the ethical dilemmas that exist in the field of medicine.

Like many women, Allie cannot identify one sole person that she identifies as a mentor but has been strongly influenced by her mother.  She explains, “I try to learn something from everyone I know and there have been so many influential people in my life who I have looked to for guidance in different aspects or during certain periods of my life.  However, my mom has been someone I have looked up to throughout my life.  She has been my role model for who I want to be as a person.  She is smart, confident, and comfortable in her own skin.  Everything she does, she pours her heart and soul into.  She has taught me to work hard and to never settle for less than my best.”

Allie struggled with her decision about where to attend college but believes she made the best choice.  Allie reflects, “My decision eventually came down to MIT and Duke.  Duke was farthest from home.  Most people I talked to encouraged me to choose MIT, because they insisted at face value that it was the more prestigious choice.  When it came down to what I was looking for however, Duke had the better package: a stronger BME department, better swim team, and more intellectually diverse student body.  Aside from the numerous unique opportunities that Duke had to offer, it was the choice that felt right.”

Allie advises first-year Duke women to be open to anything and everything. “Push your comfort zone, meet as many people as you can, and do not be afraid to try new things.  But, most importantly, remain true to yourself.  There are so many wonderful people here and there are numerous ways you will grow and change in college.  Through it all, remember to pursue a major and activities that truly make you happy.  It is easy to go through the motions and stay with the crowd, but the people who truly engage in their experience, live in the moment, and periodically evaluate their progress are the most content with their time here.  They are more able to discover their true passions.  College is about blossoming into the person you want to become, so embrace Duke and its opportunities to the fullest.”

Allie won the prestigious George C. Marshall Scholarship for post-graduate study in the United Kingdom and will spend the next two years continuing her study of biomedical engineering at Imperial College in London. Allie then plans to attend medical school; she is ultimately interested in pursuing a career as physician–scientist, able to develop regenerative stem cell therapies in the laboratory that can be translated into clinical treatments through surgery.