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Student Leadership Snapshots

December 6, 2010

Reading Group

Samanthis Smalls (2nd-year Ph.D. student, History) worked with Professor Thavolia Glymph to begin a reading group focused on the W. E. B. Du Bois work Black Reconstruction in preparation for the Duke-hosted Black Reconstruction Symposium, held from November 10-12, 2010. According to Samanthis, the appeal for joining the group was the ability to read the book in long intervals: “Given that it’s nearly 800 pages, no one ever has time to truly complete it for a class. The reading group offered us the opportunity to read and think through it and discuss it with other interested parties.” Several members of the reading group, which also consisted of students from neighboring universities NCCU and UNC-Chapel Hill, participated on a panel during the symposium.

Writing Lab

Jessi Bardill (Ph.D. candidate, English) started a drop-in Writing Lab for humanities and social sciences graduate students in fall 2010 that meets every other Wednesday afternoon in the Graduate School to provide mutual motivation and accountability as well as feedback on work in progress. One participant in the group, Reginald Patterson, used the time to work on his prospectus with peers and is now doing his fieldwork. Jessi says that one important aspect of the group has been the continuity of meeting every two weeks for those who join— it is not a single appointment with a writing tutor, it is utilizing the resources of peers to continually work on writing problems that might take many revisions to solve.” Dean David Bell participated as an in-house writing advisor for the group.

Book Club

Zakiya Whatley (4th-year Ph.D. student, Genetics & Genomics) and other members of the Duke University Bouchet Society, a student support group in the sciences, formed a book club over the summer as a way to remain engaged as a group. Zakiya says, “One of our members, Kia Walcott, chose East of Eden by John Steinbeck as our first book. This was a great choice because it covered many issues that we don’t often discuss in the sciences. It was refreshing to step away from research and collectively enjoy a piece that wasn’t featured in Nature or Science.” The other two books chosen by the book club were The Color of Water, by James McBride, and Feminista, by Erica Kennedy.