Alumni Stories

Lauren Jarvis

"As a freshman arriving at Duke in 2001, I simply could not know how significant my experiences in the *Humanitarian Challenges at Home and Abroad* FOCUS Cluster would be for my future academic and career choices."

Sally Liu

"FOCUS broadened my understanding of a completely new area: the arts. As a PreMed student and Biology major, I was more comfortable with cell cultures than with creative writing. Being in FOCUS stretched me and challenged me, providing me with a transformative learning experience thanks to my incredibly talented peers and the amazing faculty."

Ibrahim Maali

"Coming into Duke, I was unsure about how the Focus Program would affect my transition to college life. It was easily the best decision I made in my career thus far. I loved having all of my classmates living with me in the same dorm and being introduced to such distinguished professors in my first semester.

Rebecca Richards

"Being a part of such a community (FOCUS) 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."

Rebecca Holmes

"My FOCUS classes opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on the world and how we use our knowledge and education to give back to society. Being a part of FOCUS means that you will take classes with amazing professors and because of the small size, you will be able to build genuine connections with them."

Abhi Sanka

"I wanted a university where I could explore my interests, test my values, and chart a course for a future after college. With a strong public policy program, renowned science departments, and distinct interdisciplinary spirit captured by programs like FOCUS, Duke seemed like the perfect place to go to college."

During the summer of 2009, a group of Engineering Frontiers FOCUS alums traveled to Bolivia to construct a bridge in the country's flood prone highlands that will create a river crossing to benefit multiple communities by improving their access to agricultural markets, grazing land, schools, and health clinics.  Read More About 3 of These Alums

"The time I spent in FOCUS was one of the most stimulating, transformative, and fun periods of my life. Seriously. It changed the way I think, write, and read, and it gave me the unique opportunity to live in a close community of students who are all passionate about a single subject. This is what a great university is all about."

"I love the concept of the Focus Program because I can connect ideas, thoughts, and materials from one FOCUS class to any of my other three classes. It was also great to have the opportunity to physically experience what we have been studying through the field trip."

"Each member of the FOCUS faculty has made a vital imprint on my academic career, and more importantly, on my personal life, as a friend. When I reflect on my time at Duke, it is impossible to separate FOCUS from the rest of my life because it has affected me in so many ways."   Read More

"I love my small classes and the close relationships I have been able to build with my professors. The availability of opportunities and the personalized attention provided to each student is definitely unparalleled."

"FOCUS did not help me decide my major, but it did give me a broad background over a variety of interdisciplinary topics that has helped me in my other classes. I particularly liked the individual attention that I received from faculty, as the classes were small, and the ability to feel comfortable in my classes since everybody else was a first-year student."  Read More

"Education shouldn’t be about just learning facts, it should be about exposure to new ideas through different people, and that is what the Focus Program is all about."  Read More

“The Focus Program is the perfect opportunity for students who want to hit the ground running at Duke. The program matches engaged students with eminent faculty creating a genuine community of colleagues eager to ferret out answers to the tough questions.”

“FOCUS was an unforgettable start to my time here at Duke. I made great friends with students and faculty, and was shepherded into thinking like an academician without even noticing it.”

Bailey Sincox

I wouldn’t be in my current profession without the inspiration and training FOCUS provided in my first year at Duke. My career path began in the Medieval and Renaissance FOCUS Cluster: classes on Shakespeare, Renaissance women’s writing, and medieval church history immersed me in defining texts, while FOCUS events like a medieval fencing class and a trip to New York’s Met Cloisters and Cathedral of St John the Divine brought those texts to life.

The FOCUS Program is proud to recognize the summer research projects from Focus students and faculty participating in the 6th Annual NC Biosciences Collaborative Symposium held on July 27th.  Participating summer research programs included BioCoRE, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Huang Fellowship Program, Summer Neuroscience Program, SROP Scholars, SURPH Scholars, Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Fellows.

Carter Zenke

FOCUS has empowered me to pursue meaningful questions while building lifelong relationships. Analyzing educational inequities alongside the students in my cluster (Knowledge in the Service of Society) moved me to examine how similar issues might be plaguing my own area of interest: computer science (CS) education.