Aloha! I’m Jasmine. I hope this profile of mine finds you well! Let me start off with a few quick facts about me: I was born and raised in sunny Singapore and spent my formative years at United World College Red Cross Nordic (UWC RCN), an international boarding school located along a majestic fjord, nestled in the mountains of western Norway. Today, thanks to a full Duke merit scholarship (the University Scholars Program), I'm currently a computer science major with minors in environmental policy and economics.
This profile has been a long time coming, because I thought I had to figure my life plan out with absolute clarity first before I could even begin to pen down the words describing the journey I’m on and where it’s heading. However, it’s been a challenge trying to choose a specific direction and narrow my varied interests down to answer the existential questions of "What should I do with my life?”, and more importantly, “What kind of positive impact can I make in this world?", as well as “How can I best equip myself to do so with the Duke education I’m blessed to receive?”. This has, unfortunately, also led to an unanswered “How should I craft my Baldwin Scholars profile?”.
Indeed, I have delved into a myriad of disciplines and taken many a diverse path so far during my time here at Duke. Some of the opportunities and experiences I am sincerely grateful to have had include:
Working with refugee women in Durham on their English language and small business ideas
Contributing towards Duke’s Climate Action Plan goals through serving on Duke’s paid student environmental corps (Students for Sustainable Living)
Implementing Duke’s Zero Waste Game Day and the Duke Free Store as part of Duke’s waste management and recycling committee
Teaching two semesters of a for-credit Duke House Course with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) on being an effective volunteer financial coach and advocate for people in Durham experiencing homelessness
Investigating Germany's renewable energy policy at an environmental think tank in Berlin
Gleaning insights on global health and participating in ethnographic research in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Conducting a Bass Connections global health research project in Kumasi, Ghana on the environmental contamination of used motor oil in auto-mechanic villages
Engaging in a Bass Connections study on the feasibility of implementing a cutting-edge internal carbon charge policy for Duke
Working as a paid research assistant on a public policy study analysing the associations between economic downturns, financial stress, harsh parenting and child outcomes across nine countries
Studying abroad for an economics-focused semester at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand
Immersing myself in the tech start-up scene in Chengdu, China
And I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful Baldwin Scholars program and community, which has not only been key in opening many doors for me to explore, but also allowed my mind to conceive and believe – and thus attempt to achieve – an unfettered, undaunted version of myself. For example, it was learning about the Dunedin Study from Dr. Terrie Moffitt in our fascinating Baldwin freshman seminar that inspired me to read up more on life course psychology and human development, and to subsequently obtain the public policy research assistant position, which itself was based on another famous longitudinal study. It was witnessing the absolute brilliance of women engineers and mathematicians in the form of our seminar professor Dr. Lilian Pierce, as well as my fellow empowering and empowered Baldwins in engineering and technology, that helped me believe that I, too, could succeed in these spheres. Colleen’s kind support and caring advising has been particularly instrumental in helping me navigate the murky waters of adulthood and college life, especially as a first-generation student far away from home. Warm smiles, encouraging affirmations and we’re-all-in-this-together study sessions with my Baldwin section sisters have also gone a long way in keeping self-doubt and anxieties at bay.
Indeed, Baldwin has truly supported me in becoming a woman who not only has the confidence to pursue the above experiences, but also who actively reflects on these opportunities and thus makes the best use of them. Duke, with Baldwin at the utmost centre of it, has deeply touched my life and changed how I see the world every day.
Yet, as I finally buckle down to write this profile, I don’t know if I am any closer to having a definitive solution to my existential queries. But the experience of Baldwin, Duke and certainly life itself — with its humbling vastness, messiness and complexities — has also recently raised the questions, “Does it even matter?”, "Are existential questions even possible to answer?” and most strikingly, "With the expansive world as our oyster — as my Baldwin sisters have demonstrated — why should I even endeavour to narrow down my interests to just the one thing?".
Maybe you can help me figure it out. Maybe we can figure it out together. All I know now, as I walk this journey, is to keep an open mind, heart and soul, and to take incremental steps forward. The Baldwin Scholars community has been of great inspiration and a pillar of strength to me. Although I’m not 100% certain yet on where I’ll end up, I hope it’ll be a place where I can serve as an inspiration and pillar of strength to others as well.