DukeEngage Impact Report 2018

DukeEngage empowers students to address critical human needs through immersive service, in the process transforming students, advancing the University’s educational mission, and providing meaningful assistance to communities in the U.S. and abroad.


Eric Mlyn, Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage

2018 was an exciting year for DukeEngage. We saw an increase in the number of applications to our US programs, including more than 40 applicants each to New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC. This upsurge not only reflects a strategic goal of DukeEngage to increase service in the states, but also the realization by Duke students that many of the issues they care about deeply—from homelessness to conservation to inequities in education and healthcare—can be found in their own backyard. Ultimately, 401 students were selected to participate in DukeEngage for summer 2018.

As usual, we kicked off our summer with the annual Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy, a mandatory two-day training program for DukeEngage participants and the largest civic engagement conference of its kind. President Vincent Price carried on the tradition established by Richard Brodhead in 2009 of sharing words of wisdom and advice with our departing DukeEngagers. He also visited our Durham and DC programs.

The summer was filled with opportunities for students to explore their passions, from participating in a rare turtle release in Thailand to teaching STEM classes in Orange County, California. DukeEngagers tackled projects that helped advance the mission of their community partners, from building a pedestrian footbridge in Bolivia to creating a digital database for a foster care agency in Seattle. They immersed themselves in their communities by living in home stays, celebrating local holidays, and visiting historic and educational sites. Mostly importantly, DukeEngage students took time to reflect on their experiences with their partners and peers, particularly around challenging issues of racism, poverty, and privilege.

Clockwise from left: DukeEngage students built a bridge in Bolivia to improve access to farmlands during the rainy season; helped release two five-month old sea turtles into the ocean in Thailand; and taught STEM classes at the Eureka! Summer Camp for girls in California.

Our students weren't the only ones immersing themselves this summer. As a part of our ongoing evaluation process, I made site visits to our Durham, San Francisco, Seattle, South Korea, and Washington, DC programs. It was inspiring to see so many of our students in the field learning and making significant contributions to our community partners. These visits remind me why we do what we do, and how grateful I am to supporters like you for making DukeEngage possible. The impact of your investment transcends this campus, allowing our students to make a real, tangible impact in our world. That's why I'm happy to share this glimpse into what DukeEngage students were able to experience in 2018, along with my deep and sincere thanks for your support.


  • By the numbers: 223 students participated in 23 international group programs; 137 students participated in 14 US group programs; and 41 students participated in independent projects in 16 countries and 8 states.
  • Thanks to support from the Kenan Charitable Trust, DukeEngage launched the Brodhead Service Program in summer 2018. The program gives DukeEngage alumni the chance to participate in a second summer of service, with a focus on partnerships in the Triangle, North Carolina, or the US. Meet the inaugural cohort of Brodhead Fellows and learn about their projects.
  • Duke President Vincent Price visited two DukeEngage programs in summer 2018, leading conversations and reflection sessions with students and program leaders. Read about his visits to Durham and Washington, DC.
  • We hired our first DukeEngage alum: Adria Kinney '13 participated in DukeEngage-Kenya WISER. As the new assistant director for training and development, Adria oversees the Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy, the Brodhead Service Program, and DukeEngage's student leadership programs.
  • The July 2018 issue of Town & Country magazine included a shout-out to Duke University and DukeEngage (alongside Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Carnegie Mellon and others.) We're proud to be one of the many reasons students apply to Duke.
  • In October, DukeEngage announced five new or returning programs for 2019, including including our first-ever projects in Chicago and Puerto Rico. Read about them.

Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy

On May 8-9, 2018, more than 500 students, staff, program leaders, and community partners gathered on Duke's East Campus to kickoff the 11th summer of DukeEngage. Following an opening plenary with remarks from Eric Mlyn, Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage and Assistant Vice Provost for Civic Engagement; Vincent Price, Duke University President; and Abdullah Antepli, Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs, DukeEngage participants spent the next 36 hours rotating through core sessions and electives that encouraged them to think critically and carefully about the work they would be doing with their community partners. In addition, dedicated group time helped participants get to know each other, their program leaders, and the communities they would be working and living in for eight weeks over the summer.

You will learn things in your DukeEngage experiences that can never be taught in a classroom, and we hope that you will bring your experiences back to Duke to share with your classmates and colleagues. In so doing, you will enrich our campus life and our ongoing civic engagement activities." - President Vincent Price

New for 2018: DukeEngage-Cabo Verde

The memory of an immersive service experience during his junior year of high school inspired Lamonte Aidoo, the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Romance Studies, to propose the creation of DukeEngage-Cabo Verde. Ten students participated in the inaugural program, which focused on improving the self-esteem and self-expression of students in Lém Cachorro, one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Cabo Verde's capital city. During their eight weeks in Praia, DukeEngage participants taught English, Taekwondo, and visual arts to local children and teens. They also assisted their community partner, ICCA, with fundraising projects and took classes in Kriolu, the primary spoken language in Cabo Verde. Through their service, DukeEngage participants gained an in-depth understanding of the intersections of poverty and social inequality and their impact on Cabo Verde’s youth and families.

As I reflect on the past seven weeks in Cabo Verde, I have seen how parts of my personality and perspective have shifted. I spent 40 hours a week working with children and adolescents, planning creative activities to empower them. I am aware of the impact I have had on them in such a short time but I can’t help but think of the impact they have had on me. I signed up to work closely with children, and as an aspiring pediatrician, this is something I plan on dedicating my life to. However, the past seven weeks have taught me that working with children is more than playing soccer, teaching South African music or solving jigsaw puzzles. It is also forming connections with them that build trust and confidence.” – Chinemerem Nwosu ’19


These are just a few of the programs from summer in 2018, many of which were supported by DukeEngage donors.


“South Africa has allowed me to immerse myself in its locale, culture, and language in a way I didn't think was possible. The thing I am most grateful for, as an aspiring civil rights lawyer, is this program's ability to allow me to understand human rights and race from a different perspective and one that isn't only from the American viewpoint.” – Maryam Asenuga ’20

Asenuga and Chiara Settineri ’21 interned at Sonke Gender Justice, a nonprofit that works across Africa to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. One of their primary projects was creating a sexual harassment training presentation for Community Action Team members, who are point-persons within the townships and areas surrounding Cape Town.


“During my first weeks at Community School of the Arts (CSA), I realized once again the importance of art in fostering one’s identity, creativity, and life story. I attended meetings that showcased how detailed and efficient CSA has to be and the dedication required to create and manage a great nonprofit organization. I have enjoyed my discussions with my two supervisors about the influence art has had on their lives and the lives of others through their work. I researched how CSA can better serve communities of people that suffer from developmental disabilities, which correlates directly to my academic/career aspirations!” – Idalis French ’19

During their eight weeks in Charlotte, six DukeEngage participants worked to address issues of summer learning loss, homelessness, and educational equity.


"I never thought of myself as a ‘research’ person, but after our forest integrity rapid assessment, I’m eager to start conducting my own mini research projects back at Duke and attending conferences, symposiums, and lectures…It’s been a heck of a trip, and I’m incredibly grateful for it." – Christina Holloway ’21

DukeEngage-Costa Rica participants spent eight weeks in the Bellbird Biological Corridor, working with the Monteverde Institute in all facets of tropical reforestation—from seedling collection to planting. They also conducted research on germination methods, seedling survivorship, and growth rates. By the end of the project, DukeEngage students had planted 4,496 trees on abandoned pastures and delivered almost 8,000 additional trees to landowners wanting to reforest land.


“I managed to combine my media work with my passion for health and the environment—something that, at first glance, didn't seem to quite overlap. However, they came together beautifully when I chose to document the environmental measures that the school I was assigned had taken in order to show its students how they could be more ‘green’ in the future, and how important these measures would be to the future sustainability of Rwanda. It was absolutely fascinating.” – Maddie Braksick ’20

DukeEngage-Rwanda participants worked with four community-based organizations to document daily life in and around the capital city of Kigali. The students used photographs, audio, and video recordings to explore issues related to the work of each organization, including infant mortality, youth education, land reform, women’s rights, and urban renewal.


“I may have only been here for 8 weeks, but I hope to take what I’ve learned about meaningful interactions in the classroom and about the complexities of homelessness beyond this summer and back to Duke and Durham. We often think deeply about the systems at play around the world, but it seems like many students, including myself, don’t know much about the immediate community we live in.” – Luis Colon Rios ’21

Through DukeEngage-San Francisco, eight students worked at Larkin Street Youth Services, an internationally recognized model that successfully integrates housing, education, employment, and health services to get homeless and at-risk young people off the streets. Two students interned with At The Crossroads, which reaches out to homeless youth and young adults at their point of need and works with them to build healthy and fulfilling lives.


“The opportunities I have had through my internship are the reason I applied for this DukeEngage program. I have learned so much, but most importantly I have learned the significance of alliances. Real change happens when passionate people come together and form inclusive, equitable, and innovative solutions.” – Kelby Welsh ’20

Welsh was one of two DukeEngage students placed at the Washington Environmental Council. During their eight weeks in Seattle, they canvassed for the 1631 initiative, a carbon fee that aims to reduce pollution and promote clean air, water, and energy investments in the state. The 13 other DukeEngage students also worked at organizations that are addressing the sustainability challenges facing Seattle, from food insecurity to urban planning.


“During my time here, I have formed bonds with children on the mountain, solely through nonverbal communication. The joy that can be found connecting with people from different cultures through dance and songs needs no lingual connection, only an appreciation of each other.” – Angela Zhao ’21

DukeEngage-Togo students worked with Actions Sociales and AHED-Togo on a microfinance initiative. Because of the successful management of the program by the organization’s director, Cyril Atchadé, DukeEngage students were able to finance a record 53 of 65 applicants this year. Students also taught English, photography, and drawing to teens in Farendé; led computer and writing classes at the Presbyterian Youth Center, where two Duke students installed a cyber café in summer 2012; and evaluated a health insurance system created by a Duke student in 2009.


“Zhuhai allowed me to see a whole other part of the world that I had little knowledge of prior to this summer. It taught me patience during hardship and pain; it taught me the importance of adaptability and creativity on the spot; and it reignited a confidence in me that hasn’t seen the light of day in a long time. I DANCED, me—a girl who can barely wiggle to the right beat—I DANCED ON A STAGE!” – Mahnoor Nazeer ’19

DukeEngage-Zhuhai participants teach Chinese middle school students the importance of leadership, self-confidence, and self-expression. They also plan and execute an end-of-program performance that includes both Duke students and No. 9 students dancing, singing, and doing stand-up comedy.

Support for DukeEngage

In 2018, DukeEngage received contributions from over 200 donors ! Here are a few examples of gifts that are making a difference for DukeEngage students, faculty, and partners:

  • Barbara '83 and Ted Janulis are passionate about the environment and believe that DukeEngage provides an important opportunity for students to work side-by-side with community partners who are dedicated to protecting the planet. That's why they endowed a DukeEngage Director’s Exploration Fund to help create and sustain programs that allow students, faculty, and partners to address some of the most pressing environmental issues facing our world today.
  • After learning more about DukeEngage, Ellen Wolf ’75 and Rich Harris ’73 realized that the program's mission matches perfectly with what they hope to accomplish with their philanthropy: bridging divides. They made a gift to the DukeEngage Opportunity Fund to "give students a chance to reach across cultures and ideologies to expand their own knowledge, and hopefully to expand the knowledge of those they’ve reached across to."
  • The Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust established an unrestricted endowment for DukeEngage. Unrestricted endowments provide permanent, flexible support to fund DukeEngage's most pressing needs and greatest aspirations.
  • Tre' Scott '15 participated in an independent DukeEngage project in China in 2012. The experience was so meaningful that he decided to establish an endowed fund to ensure future Duke students will have access to the same opportunities he did.
  • 68 DukeEngage alumniincluding a dozen Duke seniors—made contributions to the DukeEngage Opportunity Fund in 2018, providing immediate funding to pay for everything from student stipends to enrichment activities.
I gave to DukeEngage because it was the most rewarding experience of my Duke career and, as a financial aid student, it's an opportunity I would have never have had if it weren't for the generosity of others." - Imani Moise '16, DukeEngage-Cape Town

Visit dukeengage.duke.edu to learn more about DukeEngage, read student blogs, or make a gift to support this transformative program, which is made possible by philanthropy.

In 2018, DukeEngage students worked on social entreprenship in Guatemala, youth education in Kenya, and clean energy solutions in Peru. What can your support help our students accomplish?

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