Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Vanessa Agudelo


Vanessa  Agudelo

 “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”

-Maureen Dowd

  Hi there! My name is Vanessa Agudelo and I am beyond grateful to join this beautiful, sisterhood of powerful women. I’ve always found it easier to describe myself through my experiences, so here goes a little bit of the story that has shaped me into who I am today.

   In 1999, my family was forced to leave Colombia due to political corruption, and we were granted asylum within the United States. Although only an infant at the time, my childhood memories remain vivid. I remember watching my family silently endure the insolence of clerks and waiters because of our lack of English. On my first day of school, I remember realizing how much illiteracy paralyzes a person. In that moment, I made myself a promise to receive the best education I possibly could.

   Once I learned English, the classroom became a place of solace for me, filled with endless opportunities to learn and achieve. The teachers were baffled by the little girl who was always excited to go to class, and constantly got scolded for doing more homework than she had to. My love towards school followed me into my own room which my 8 year old self had successfully transformed into a classroom, equipped with a large class of stuffed animals. It was in that very classroom that my passion for teaching was first ignited. My love for learning followed me into high school, and with the guidance and support of my family, friends, teachers and God, I was able to keep my promise. Today, I find myself at Duke University as a first generation, Latina student; a phrase that carries with it a little girls promise, all of my families struggles, and that I grow more prideful of each day.

   My love for teaching is still prevalent, and I am currently working towards a teaching certificate and a public policy major. I am also involved in club soccer and I work with American Reads, America Counts. My goal is to build an infinite life for myself. Although eventually it will reach a physical end, it leaves permanent footprints on the hearts it touches. I have witnessed the male dominance that seems to reign over professional jobs in South American countries and I hope to teach here and expand the power of knowledge to uneducated women all over the globe. I am also aware of the low graduation rates for Latino students in the United States, and I would like to work towards reducing the barriers that make it difficult for Latinos to succeed in today’s current education system. I am excited to join this strong Baldwin community of women that edify and support one another because I feel that it will strengthen my own sense of identity and allow me to explore the problems that the modern female society faces. I want to be able to incorporate the skills that I learn into my teaching career so that I can influence women to reach their highest potentials.