Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Grace Benson

Grace  Benson

            I have wanted to be a college student since the age of four. I used to carry around dictionaries and encyclopedias, pretending to read in preparation for my “big exam”.  My love of learning was evident at such an early age thanks to my parents, who are both psychologists. They were forever encouraging me to focus on the learning process instead of grades. My sisters, Anna and Kathryn, are two of my best friends and are amazingly talented and kind. My family is very important to me and is a constant source of comfort, love, support, and happiness. 

            I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, about three hours away from Duke. Even though I am away from home, I am so happy to be a Blue Devil! My freshman year was an incredible experience. I have loved the opportunity to meet such amazing, intelligent, and driven students and professors. I met many of these people through my Focus program, entitled “Ethics, Leadership, and Global Citizenship”. The Focus program allowed me to expand my interests and participate in a higher level of discussion and analysis than is usually available in a college classroom.


            Focus also helped me to expand my interest in refugee and immigration issues. Because of Focus, I became involved with Duke Refugee Aid, a campus organization that promotes advocacy and aid for refugees in Durham. I spent the past summer working for the Kenan Institute for Ethics and getting hands-on experience with refugee communities in Durham. I'm currently studying the intellectual and policy aspects of immigration through an independent study at Kenan. I am also the co-founder of an English tutoring program for refugee children in Durham. (If you are interested in participating, let me know!)

             I am (obviously) a Baldwin Scholar, which has been my most important Duke experience so far. Baldwin is unique because of the education, mentoring, and empowerment experiences the program offers. I have been privileged to get to know so many extraordinary women who have been vital in ensuring my smooth transition to Duke.

            Baldwin has also encouraged my pursuit of a double major in Psychology and Public Policy. I am very interested in promoting mental health and positive child development. Through Baldwin, I have discovered that I am not satisfied with helping on an individual basis. I want to affect my larger community through creating policy that deals with important issues in the field of psychology. Right now, I'm considering law school. Or working for a non-profit psychology organization committed to social activism. Or doing international field work and policy development with refugees and displaced persons. Or staying in school for forever... who knows?!

            What do I like to do besides school? Lots of things. I love talking to people, friends and strangers alike. I have danced classical ballet for twelve years and have taken workshops in salsa, pointe, belly dancing, modern, jazz, Irish step dancing, square dancing, swing dancing, bhangra, and clogging. I drink tea every day and love roasted red pepper hummus. I love to go rock climbing and stargazing.

            My friends say that I am “freakishly organized”, which is probably true. I read all the time and my favorite TV shows are The Office and Modern Family. I also love to talk about my experience at Duke and with Baldwin. If you are thinking about applying to Baldwin, please feel free to contact me! I would love to get to know you or even just share advice on the application process. My email address is gracekeppelbenson@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!