Brittany (Hesbrook) DuChaussee
Brittany knew what she wanted after college. And then she didn’t. And then she did. Successfully completing the arduous and competitive process of applying to the Peace Corps, she found herself in Zambia for the orientation, and knowing that it wasn’t the right fit. That her calling was somewhere else.
Brittany is a member of the Baldwin Scholars Class of 2010 from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Proud of her state, she is always quick to add the state motto, “the Land of Enchantment”!
At Duke, Brittany majored in Political Science with a certificate in Global Health and studied abroad in Egypt.
Brittany was active with Duke’s Native American Student Alliance, serving as the organization’s president her senior year and re-instituting the annual campus powwow. She was also elected by her peers to be Chair of the Baldwin Scholars organization, leading meetings and overseeing progress on projects.
With three other Baldwin Scholars, Brittany presented a session on women in politics at the “Women as Global Leaders” conference in the United Arab Emirates in March 2008.
Coming home after a 3-week stint with the Peace Corps set her on the path to become a lawyer, meet her husband, and re-establish roots in New Mexico.
A member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, she found herself drawn to Native American law and enrolled at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Her career took a pivot when she met her professional mentor, Judge Stan Whitaker. “He introduced me to criminal prosecution as a career and has continued to give me solid professional advice and encouragement, all while leading by example.”
Brittany is currently an Assistant Attorney General for the state of New Mexico and prosecutes crimes against children in addition to human trafficking and child pornography cases.
Reflecting about leadership, Brittany wrote, “Leading is not the absence of fear but the courage to overcome it. It can be big, bold, loud actions. Or small, persistent, and dedicated everyday actions. It can be having the will and ability to stand up, or at other times to sit down. Leadership can be inspiring others to follow us, or encourage others to become leaders themselves. My ideas of leadership have not changed; however, the Baldwins impacted HOW I lead. I learned a lot from the Women as Global Leaders conference; women do not need to imitate men or traditionally masculine views of leadership in order to be successful leaders. Women can, and should, lead as women. We can be strong and compassionate, decisive and thoughtful, honest and passionate.”
She is inspired by both her family and high profile leaders. “My mom was my first mentor and my sister my first role model. As I got older, celebrities, artists, and politicians like John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, J.K. Rowling, Michelle Obama, and Oprah became my role models. I admire people who truly went through life’s struggles and came out strong and positive, and used their talents and success to help others.”
Brittany credits Crossfit with helping her to change her own life. “After years of feeling insecure with my body and not loving myself, I found strength, power, and confidence. I created a mentally and physically strong person who loves and values herself, and has the capability to fight for others. You can find me doing my thing as much in court as in the gym!”
She advises first-year Duke women to fail and fail often! “It is not from success that we learn, but from failing. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed of your failures. Be proud that you are taking risks and challenging yourself. Be grateful that you have the tools and the support to fail. Know that success does not come to anyone by accident. That it comes to those who work hard and are brave enough to unabashedly go for it!”