Science & Society faculty and staff celebrated with friends and family in attendance during last Saturday’s 2019 graduation proceedings. We recognized 24 Masters students, including seven JD/MAs, along with five undergraduates who have completed the Certificate in Science & Society.
Each year we ask students from our various programs to speak about their experience at Duke and what their education meant to them. Here are a few highlights from this year’s ceremony:
The program is about pushing us outside of our comfort zones. Encouraging us to try new things. Challenging us to take on projects or classes that might be out of our wheelhouse at first.
And always, the faculty and professors at Science and Society support us and believe that their students will really help science make the world a better place. They even got me to believe that, and I’m a lawyer, so you know that means I’m inherently pessimistic.
Everyone says that when you go to law school, it changes the way you think. I think the same can be said about this program. In law school, we’re taught to look for problems, because to the extent that you can find a flaw in the other side’s argument, you win. It makes you a good lawyer, but an incredibly hard person to watch Suits or Law and Order with.
This program is different though. As bioethicists, we’re taught to look for solutions. There is no winning or losing, only improving. We’re always looking for ways that law or policy or any other tool can be used to make things a little bit better, a little bit fairer, a little bit more … beneficence-y? Or should I say non-maleficence-y?
Since leaving Duke, countless people in my life have commented on how amazing this unique program sounds. I’ve had colleagues say to me, “You’re so lucky that they had a program like that” and “I wish they had something like that at my school.” And it’s true, I am so lucky that this unique program exists. It has truly changed my trajectory and makes me so excited about my future professional life. We have a wonderful foundation of knowledge and an expansive network to guide us on our journey.
I hope that everyone who is graduating today and who goes through this masters program in the future finds their next step to be as fulfilling as mine has been for me.
After reflecting over my time at Duke, resiliency and equity were two themes that were salient. I entered graduate school as a first generation student coming from a low-income single parent family. I battled with numerous adversities that taught me that resiliency is a muscle: something we must strain and tear in order to build it. While at Duke, there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I kept going.
I leaned into my community and tribe to push me when I couldn’t push myself. In those moments is when I discovered the importance of equity or giving folks the resources and power they need to be successful. It is now through the lens of equity that I choose to engage with my community as a member of the Racial Equity Task Force for the city of Durham. I hope through this work we can make our community and environment more equitable.