Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Jaclyn Grace

Jaclyn Grace

“Except in mathematics, the shortest distance between point A and point B is seldom a straight line.”


Originally, I hail from a small town in Upstate New York called Niskayuna, where I have spent almost all of my life. My family are some of the most important people in this world to me, with my closest members comprising of my mom, a younger brother, and two loving and supportive grandparents with whom I spend much of my time. As a child I attended Catholic school for seven years, and then switched to public school, graduating from Niskayuna High School in 2011. I had never thought about Duke until tenth grade, when my mom and brother insisted on visiting after Duke won the Men’s Basketball National Championship in 2010. And yes, I will now live my next four years here with the knowledge that my mom was right, and that this is the perfect school for me. Thank you, Mom.

Now for a few of the important things about me. I don’t have a favorite color (I love them all), I wish that I was left-handed (like my mom), and laughing is one of my favorite things to do in the world. I enjoy the outdoors - back home I hike with family friends in the Adirondacks - and love animals. Other cultures fascinate me, I have a goal to visit all seven continents, and I collect quotes. I love solving math problems (and always have); and often I still think of the things I learned in my AP English class in eleventh grade. I sense that I want to work with children and for social justice when I grow up.

Here at Duke I am studying a mash of sciences, humanities, French and – a new addition as of last year – ballet. Every subject was my favorite in high school, and as a consequence it was quite a struggle to decide on a major. Finally I have chosen to double in International Comparative Studies and French Studies, and I intend to stick with it! For eight weeks in the summer of 2012 I traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland for human rights work as a part of the DukeEngage program. This summer (2013) I will be interning in Bangalore, India through the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. I intend to spend my Junior year abroad, the Fall Semester studying social pluralism and development in Cameroon and the Spring with Duke in France / EDUCO (wish me luck on my application!).

Last year I tutored Durham elementary school students during the week days in math and reading, and this year I worked as a Gender Justice intern at the Duke Women’s Center. On the weekends I play Women’s Club Rugby (believe it or not, I can be fierce), and find enjoyment in the duality of being both a Rugger and a Ballerina. I think that the Baldwin Scholars program is going to change my life, and my acceptance was one of my greatest moments of my First Year.

The best thing that I can say about my life thus far is that I may not have gone where I intended to go, but ended up where I was meant to be. Duke is everything and more than I imagined, and right now in my life I am inherently happy. Nothing else really concerns me now but this moment:

“When we got out of the tunnel...there it was. Lights on buildings and everything that makes you wonder. Sam sat down and started laughing. Patrick started laughing. I started laughing. And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower, page 39