Raised in Long Beach, Baldwin Scholar Rachael Moss is a self-proclaimed “Cali” girl.  She has a sunny disposition and is inclined to transform boring or stressful situations into spontaneous dance parties.

So when she steps onto the volleyball court, you watch her toss the ball high into the air but you do not expect the powerful serve that threatens the well-being of the players unfortunate enough to be on the opposite side of the net.  Nor do you expect the wide-ranging intellectual interests and intensity that earned her a near-perfect GPA and an invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa.

Rachael recalls making a decision in middle school about how she would define herself.  “One of the most significant turning points in my life was my decision to read The Lord of the Rings in 7th grade. I remember the location (Border's in Long Beach), the time (evening), and the stranger who talked me into purchasing the daunting three-volume book as I stood in front of the display. My intense love of the book and its author, J.R.R. Tolkien, awakened my inner academic and led to a new acceptance of being overtly ‘nerdy,’ if you will.  Athletics was always more of an appreciated ‘given’ than a ‘choice’--so this choice, to read a book, marks the most poignant turning point where I made a conscious decision that had far-reaching, and still unforeseen, consequences.”

Rachael has been an athlete since age four.  At Duke, she was a member and captain of the varsity Women’s Volleyball team, earning many awards for her performance on and off the court.  She was named ACC Player of the Week, NCAA All-American, ESPN Academic All-American, and Volleyball Magazine Player of the Month.

She credits her close friend and teammate from home, Katelyn Burke, as a role model.  “Through our shenanigans since middle school, Katelyn saved me from the superficiality of adolescence. Together we discovered that it's OK-- even preferable-- to proudly embrace one's quirks, to give everyone a chance at friendship, to love academics, and to rise to every challenge with a tough spirit and open mind. Also, as my setter on the high school volleyball team, she is the one to whom I owe many of my volleyball accolades.”

Rachael declared a Political Science major and Theater Studies minor at Duke.  She studied abroad at Oxford one summer and also excelled in her chosen foreign language of Arabic.

She advises first-year Duke women to branch out.  “Take classes based on personal interest, not based on what others say, level of difficulty, or because it doesn't fit into a long-term ‘major’ plan. You'll find some real gems that way, and maybe discover a latent interest that could evolve into a new area of study.”

Rachael graduated from Duke in 2010 with summa cum laude honors.  She will play professional volleyball in Spain for a year and then attend law school, with a focus on the film and entertainment industry.  She hopes to be a talent agent and/or a film producer.

If Hollywood could see her volleyball serve, they would know to step out of her way!