Joining Baldwin Scholars is one of the best decisions I’ve made at Duke. The program, in addition to exposing me to many societal realities that I’d never fully considered, has given me the chance to interact with some of the brightest and most engaging women on campus. Although initially apprehensive of the nascent program and not quite sure whether to expect an academic sorority, militant cult or some other type of estrogen frenzy, I decided to submit my application.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted, the extent of which only became apparent when I met the other scholars. It was there, in a room with the 18 original Baldwins and 17 other inductees, that I had my first taste of how the program would affect my life at Duke. Women from diverse backgrounds and myriad life experiences with a full spectrum of opinions and ideas converged to create an atmosphere infused with dynamism and an air of possibility. In the midst of this, I was energized and motivated. I would later learn how powerful and complex each Baldwin is and how remarkably supportive a network of such women can be. Reflecting now half way through my time at Duke, I struggle to imagine how my life at college would have been was it not for the Baldwins: ‘less’ is all I can muster.
As for who I am, since this is meant to be a bio rather than shameless propaganda…I grew up in England to an American father and a British mother, which ensured me a childhood of distinct duality. Like any Duke student, I achieved the requisite palette of successes in high school, which secured me my place at university. Suffocated by the prospect of taking the prescribed course in life, I deferred for a year and escaped to the tropics. For several months I lived alone in a remote indigenous reserve in Central America and worked as a schoolteacher among other things. Stranded in a mountain-enclosed rainforest, I gained a deeper understanding of myself – far more than an activity-laden education ever afforded me – not to mention hastily acquired survival skills (England tends to have fewer scorpions, snakes and landslides as you might imagine). It was a challenging experience on many levels and, perhaps because of that, turned out to be the most rewarding to date.
Emerging from my hippy phase and after a stint or two job-hunting in Vietnam and bartending in New York City, I washed up at Duke, fearing that academia might clip my fiercely free-spirited wings. On the contrary, I found college to reawaken my intellectual appetite (as well as appease my mother’s fears for her vagabond progeny). Duke has become a home to me, a place where I meet the most interesting people at 4am in the library and can always amble down the hallway for philosophical chats over tea with other Baldwins. Since matriculating, I have participated in a cappella, FOCUS, the Duke Start-Up Challenge, post-Katrina house gutting, and several other activities that I can’t currently recall. Now, as I pen this bio, I look forward to a summer studying in Oxford, a year at Sciences Po in Paris, building up The Green Cooling Group (www.greencoolinggroup.com) a green technology company I co-founded, and hopefully a wonderful senior year reunited with the Baldwins!