This summer, Duke sophomore Lauren Jamiolkowski worked with the City of Mullins Police Department in South Carolina to research and implement new strategies for dealing with domestic violence.
"I've read academic journals, and then taken it a step further and gone to victim's advocate training and talked with victims to actually apply what I've been learning," said Jamiolkowski, from Cary, N.C.
Rebecca Jeffries, also a sophomore, took part in a joint internship with the Troy-Johnson Learning Korner in Mullins and the Center for the Child at Francis Marion University (FMU) in Florence.
"I've enjoyed working with the children and have seen a lot of diverse socioeconomic groups in both places," said Jeffries, from Charlotte. "I've benefitted from the faculty and research at FMU, learning about the concept of intergenerational poverty, the psychological effects, how it manifests itself in education and some of the consequences of that."
Jamiolkowski and Jeffries were among the 12 Benjamin N. Duke scholars at Duke who completed eight-week internship and enrichment programs in Marion County, S.C., this summer.
Other student internships included training and counseling unemployed workers at the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce; creating a social media strategy to encourage private, charitable donations for state K-12 public education with South Carolina Future Minds; and producing a promotional film and updated website to promote tourism and preserve the tobacco history for the City of Mullins. Students combined academic and organizational skill sets to produce results for the host organizations.
Funded by The Duke Endowment, this immersive living and learning experience was designed to serve the needs of the community, expose students to the current issues and challenges facing the Carolinas, develop leadership skills, and strengthen relationships within the class of B.N. scholars.
Those who participated in the program included Cory Adkins from Pfafftown, N.C.; Casey Edwards from Chapin, S.C.; Erin Harrington from Chapel Hill; David Hong from Raleigh; Hubert (Tolison) Humphrey from Charlotte; Jamiolkowski; Jeffries; Sasha McEwan from Charlotte; Allyson Santini from Raleigh; Jacqueline Stedman from Charlotte; Benton Wise from Marion, S.C.; and Xiaoyang Zhuang from Matthews, N.C.
The students engaged with the Marion community, both in their internships and their after-hours activities by attending county school-board meetings, city council sessions, state gubernatorial debates and conferences on social issues in South Carolina. Their summer culminated in a group service project in which the students refurbished a playground at Troy-Johnson Learning Korner to improve both the safety and recreational experience of the children who use the space.
Along the way, the scholars received a healthy dose of southern hospitality, participating in shag dancing lessons, July 4th celebrations and a Pee-Dee river kayak trip, all at the invitation of Marion County leaders.
This was the first year the program hired a local community member to serve as the onsite coordinator. Dr. Paul DeMarco, a physician and faculty member at Francis Marion University, served as a mentor to the students and a liaison between the program and the community. The students hosted dinners for Marion community leaders as well as a reception for Duke alumni in the region.
Those involved said these exchanges led to increased appreciation for Duke in the Marion community and a deeper understanding of the Carolinas on the part of the students.
"We've done a little bit to help out around Marion County this summer, but I don't think it at all parallels the embrace we have received from the Marion community, whether we've been invited to picnics or shag dancing, or whatever," said Adkins. "The way this community has taken us in has allowed us to fully experience the traditions and perspectives of the rural South."
In a summer which revolved around forging relationships, perhaps the greatest friendships formed were between the students themselves.
"The summer has given me the chance to develop my relationships with the other BNs," said Harrington. "I came into the summer being close to a few of the other scholars but I feel like I'm leaving the summer with a new family."
The Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship program was created to honor the memory of Benjamin Newton Duke, one of the founders of Duke University. Scholars are students from the Carolinas who are chosen for their excellent academics, strong leadership potential and commitment to community service. The program provides students with funding for eight semesters of tuition, room, board and mandatory fees. Student potential is cultivated through program-funded leadership development activities and through two summer experiences, one in the Carolinas and one abroad.
To learn more about the Benjamin N. Duke scholarship program and the Class of 2013, visit the program's website at http://www.bnduke.org.
Susan L. McConnell
Associate Director, Higher Education