Rebecca Richards, Power of Language, Class of 2015

"Among the numerous decisions I made during my time at Duke, few were as transformative as my decision to participate in the Focus Program. When I learned of the “Power of Language” program, I was immediately intrigued. Having had the opportunity to study Linguistics through an independent study program in high school, I was certain that I wanted to pursue a degree in Linguistics while at Duke, so logically, the “Power of Language” Focus Program was a perfect fit for me. And it was! But not solely because it provided an opportunity to jump right into my pursuit of Linguistics academically, but also because it opened my eyes to language and, specifically, the countless ways in which its transformative powers affect our identity, our political and judicial systems, and the arts. The Focus Program provided an unparalleled introduction into the excitement I would find through my studies at Duke, particularly the excitement of realizing that my passions had intersected with my intellectual pursuits.

"But perhaps what makes Duke, and thus the Focus Program, so special is the ways in which academic pursuits and personal passions often become ingrained in every aspect of one’s life. The Focus Program allowed me to create friendships inside the classroom that continued in the dining hall and the dormitory. Additionally, weekly FOCUS dinners helped facilitate relationships with professors that I was fortunate enough to sustain throughout my four years at Duke. Consequently, the “Power of Language” left an indelible mark on my Duke experience.

"Although I knew my passion for language prior to my arrival at Duke, I did not know the depth nor the direction of this passion until I encountered the Focus Program. Being a part of such a community allowed me to transition into Duke with great enthusiasm for the academic, social, and extra-curricular opportunities that were in store for me. It equipped me with the confidence in the classroom necessary to succeed at such a rigorous level and the motivation to make my Duke experience the very best that it could be. I am blessed to say that participating in the Focus Program fostered lifelong friendships with peers, relationships with professors who would become personal mentors, and an assurance that I had found my passion and I had found my home in Duke. Participating in the Focus Program truly was one of the best decisions I have ever made."