Study Abroad at Duke University

University Life

Study Abroad at Duke University

In 2012, Robert Lefkowitz and his former student, Brian Kobilka, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their work on G-protein coupled receptors led to massive advances in drug delivery methods, so there is a resounding consensus in the medical and research communities that this award is well deserved. What you may not know about Dr. Lefkowitz is that he is a dedicated mentor and teacher within the Duke community, and not only to those working in his lab. He assists with the pre-orientation program that teaches incoming undergraduate freshmen about research (this program is appropriately named “P-Search”).

The amazing thing about Dr. Lefkowitz is that he is the rule rather than the exception in all ways, except of course his Nobel Prize. Duke is an exceptionally accessible place, if you know how to send a friendly, professional email. Research opportunities for undergrads are advertised daily and the only reason that I have ever heard someone turned down by a professor to work in their lab is because that professor already had 5 undergraduate students working with him. We are a large research university with a medium/small undergraduate population, so any student that wants to pursue these opportunities will eventually be successful in finding a position. Looking beyond research and science, academic advising at Duke is readily available and a number of deans and faculty members will help you to navigate choosing courses and charting your long-term goals. Many advisors will reach out to you, but if you have specific questions or want to meet outside of regularly scheduled times, all you need to do is contact them. Furthermore, professors consistently stay 10-15 minutes after lectures to answer questions.

Duke provides opportunities for students interested in every discipline, whether they want to pursue it academically or extracurricularly, through a capstone class or a Duke Engage project. The liberal arts curriculum ensures that students sample a variety of courses throughout their four years. Duke is proud of its status as a young university that has something to prove. Undergraduates in general have a similar mindset, so when the goals of the students are so well aligned with the institution’s goals, administrators tend to be receptive to student voices and suggestions. Buzz-phrases on campus include “local and global,” “interdisciplinary,” and “mentorship.” When applying to Duke, make sure to peruse the website and find a facet of the University that fits with your personal interests or strengths. Use the “Why Duke” supplemental essay to describe how you possess a special attribute that will help our community build on itself. We use the word community deliberately because campus has a very collegial and collaborative atmosphere. Small seminars encourage students to freely exchange ideas and late-night dorm conversations can spark novel group projects. Duke students also pride themselves on a healthy work/life balance, so everyone here is busy with a combination of engaging classes, impressive extracurriculars, and social time with friends. Like Dr. Lefkowitz, Duke students tend to excel in their given fields while remaining connected to a humble attitude and diligent work ethic. Duke will challenge you to reach greater academic heights while keeping you grounded in community and support systems.