Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Michaela Dwyer


Michaela Dwyer

Hello! My name is Michaela Dwyer. 

2009:

To reaffirm the common sentiment, I am very excited to have been selected as a Class of 2013 Baldwin Scholar.

I affectionately call North Carolina home. The region continues to astound me with its incredible cultural opportunities (what other city can boast the American Dance Festival?) and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to more fully appreciate all that this portion of the Old North State has to offer. I feel privileged to spend another four years in a city adjacent to my home base with which I’ve grown up (read: five-year-old me, adorned in flowered leggings, scampering beneath the magnolias in the Duke Gardens) yet about which I hardly know enough.

In high school, two of my female compatriots and I founded a book club with an admired English teacher. To honor the literary sisters from across the pond, we called ourselves the Brontë Book Club and over the four years met regularly, discussing works by authors ranging from Jean Rhys to Flannery O’Connor to Jane Austen to Toni Morrison. We came to express the same opinion regarding our little club: the small-group atmosphere, coupled with the strictly female base, was an ideal intellectual experience. When I applied to Baldwin I had this particular scenario in mind, and I hope to expand the principles of the Brontë Book Club in the more large-scale coeducational Duke culture.

In terms of my academic concentration(s) here at Duke-- my involvement in the Book Club signals my lifelong interest in the humanities; my longtime extracurricular participation in dance has made me an unfailing proponent of the arts (I'm the 2011-2012 Arts Editor for Recess, the arts and entertainment section of The Chronicle). Just about everything fascinates me in some way. I am majoring in English, and pursuing a minor in Art History. I am also very interested in Documentary Studies and, though I'm not completing the certificate, find everything the CDS offers unique and invigorating.

Some other things about me: I love live music, dry humor, Ikea, snow days, dark chocolate, dance pieces that suggest subtle and nuanced social commentary, and the film Once.

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2014:

I'm still that flowered leggings-wearing, NC-loving lady; still a dancer, still a writer, still passionate (more than ever) about the arts and civic life.

I majored in English, minored in Art History, and, incidentally, received a Certificate in Documentary Studies (focusing on documentary writing and audio documentary). I served as both Arts Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Recess (the latter during my senior year). I think of my work with Recess as an experiment in creative placemaking—a participatory project oriented toward a more expansive discussion of the arts on a university campus.

I'm currently the Stephen and Janet Bear Postgraduate Fellow in Ethics at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke. My work is made up of everything from curating an ethics film series about the contemporary American South to teaching documentary writing and ethics to undergraduate students conducting oral history research with refugees in Nepal and Jordan to running a staff-wide book club. You can read the pieces I write weekly about what it means to work at a “think-and-do tank” here.

I hope to pursue graduate study in American Studies and creative writing (nonfiction).

I still love live music, dry humor, Ikea, snow days, dark chocolate, dance pieces that suggest subtle and nuanced social commentary, and the film Once.

Please feel free to email me with any and all questions/ideas/ruminations: michaela.dwyer@duke.edu