New Student Profiles

Spring 2014

Jessica Almy-Pagán holds a master of fine arts in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor of arts in studio art from UNC Chapel Hill. An artist, educator, and grant writer, Jessica describes her research and art practice as “constantly informed and reshaped by an intermixing of my own personal experience, contemporary theoretical concerns, and collected stories and memories of others.” She comes to the GLS program out of an “appreciation for the intellectual cross-pollination that occurs among academic peers and mentors... [and seeks] to cultivate skills for synthesizing and analyzing scientific research.”

With a master of science in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University and a bachelor of arts in English from Tuskegee University, Nikki Baskin is Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Duke. Immersed in the Duke community from the undergraduate admissions side, Nikki has been coveting GLS courses from afar. She comes to GLS for “courses that span the spectrum – from religion to cultural anthropology to art.” The more she reads and experiences, she tells us, “the more she wants to know.. hoping to emerge from GLS a better writer and more aware.”

Michelle Cooley has a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Elon University and is staff assistant in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Duke. She comes to GLS out of a desire to be back in the classroom and being “challenged by her professors and peers… to gain a better understanding of others... [and] equip her with a stronger tool set to help her be a better mother and a better teacher for her son.”

A distance runner, Domenick DeMatteo’s bachelor’s degree in biology grew out of his personal experience with running injuries and a desire to understand the biomechanics of the body to find the root causes of these injuries. Over the course of his studies at Duke, his interest in medicine evolved into an interest in global politics as key to worldwide health care. Domineck comes to the GLS program to further his studies in political science and public policy as he continues to explore global health.

Shagufta Hakeem has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and another in international business from UNC Charlotte. She chose these degrees to “learn about business practices in difference countries” while studying the “roots of crime and ethical behavior.” Having worked in information technology during her college years, Shagufta is interested in studying the “impact the digital divide has on society,” with a special interest in cybercrime.

With a bachelor’s degree in radio and tv journalism from Renmin University (Beijing), Juanjuan Huang has been a documentary and reality television producer with China Central Television, where she’s covered stories about marginal people. Recognizing the impact of the internet in bringing Western influences to Chinese media, Juanjuan comes to GLS to “learn more about Western culture” to better understand the cultural and ideological changes in the Chinese media industry. 

Roland Kennedy has a master’s degree in global studies from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in global studies from Villanova University. Hoping to pursue a career in the U.S. foreign service, Roland has come to GLS to “gain advanced interdisciplinary research skills, grow his capacity for critical thinking, and challenge his intellectual abilities,” to become a U.S. diplomat.

A staff assistant in the department of Romance Studies at Duke, Karen Pochala-Peck has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from UNC Greensboro. She comes to the GLS program for both professional and personal reasons. Professionally, she seeks to enhance her skills in supporting the Romance Studies program. Personally, GLS “gives her a chance to pursue her passion for delving into history, for making connections between her family’s story and the story of America and the world.”

Joshua Snead has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke, where he’s a member of the football team. He comes to GLS on his path to a career in the corporate world. He hopes to develop his communication skills and explore new subjects.

Matthew Symmes has a bachelor’s degree in history from Duke, where he’s played on the football team and serves as a coach. With a professional goal of teaching and coaching, Matthew comes to GLS to be re-engaged in the classroom in an “intellectually stimulating environment.” The GLS program will also expose him to a range of courses and areas as he focusses in on his career subject.

With a bachelor of arts degree in English from Tufts University, Courtney Young is a marketing professional, most recently with the National Council for Behavioral Health. She comes to GLS to “integrate interdisciplinary areas of thought to draw connections between history; stories and storytelling; race, class, and gender; and the legacy of trauma for individuals and communities.”


Fall 2013

Bryan Amos holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Furman University. Currently assistant coach of men’s soccer at Duke, “the academic rigor at Duke and the intellectual curiosity of students, staff, and faculty,” has inspired him to pursue graduate studies. He sees the GLS program as the “perfect opportunity to immerse oneself in Duke’s intellectual community.”

With a bachelor’s degree in history from Beloit College, Kavanah Anderson is education program director at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The “love of learning” that drew her to an education career has brought her to the GLS program with “its celebration of interdisciplinary exploration… finding connections and possibility in overlapping topics.” She looks forward to “joining a learning community of people from diverse backgrounds, where the process of learning is as valuable as the outcome.”

Matthew Arnold has a bachelor’s degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He currently teaches history at The Franciscan School in Raleigh. Matthew comes to GLS as a result of his “striving to be and become more than I am.” Further, “the opportunity to harness rigorous cousework and yoke it together with a real world final project is what has compelled me to apply for this program.”

Emily Barber holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke, where she’s a member of the varsity swim team. Working toward a career in medicine, Emily’s “primary purpose in undertaking graduate study is to acquire a wider knowledge base so that I may approach medicine from a multidisciplinary perspective… to ultimately enhance my ability to understand and treat future patients.”

A career in the US Army in post-conflict situations has inspired John Bechtold to continue his efforts to bring stability to these communities. With a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Maryland and much US Army leadership training, John “envisions a course of [GLS] study that may include economic development in third world countries, world health issues, international politics, organizational leadership, and perhaps strategic communication using social media platforms.”

Terri Beck has a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Robert Morris University. Now a recruiter with Duke University and Duke University Health System, Terri comes to GLS seeking an “education experience that will allow me to think creatively and stretch myself academically…. [S]tudying diverse subjects beyond my current breadth of knowledge will contribute to my personal and professional growth.”

A graduate of Duke with an interdepartmental bachelor’s degree in computer science and sociology, Lex Butler also played on the football team. He comes to GLS to satisfy both professional and personal goals: to “improve my critical and analytical thinking as well as creativity” and “to explore topics that I have never studied before, to broaden my horizons.” Lex plans to pursue a career in information technology.

Michael Choy holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, a juris doctor degree from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s in international business from the University of Georgia. He is senior vice president and senior counsel with First Citizens Bank. Viewing “learning as a lifelong endeavor,” Micheal comes to GLS to explore subjects that eluded him in the past - the “social sciences, physical sciences, and humanities” – that he believes are “critical to being a well-rounded thinker and person.”

A native of Pakistan, Mahrukh Kayani holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Lahore University of Management Sciences. With a particular interest in women empowerment, which she believes is critical to “alleviating the social ills that plague my society,” Mahrukh hopes to pursue her GLS studies in the areas of development, culture, gender, history, and writing.

Rian Larkin holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Wake Forest University and is currently an instructional web developer. With a particular interest in art history, Rian hopes to take her GLS education into a “new career that combines research, scholarship and education.”

Alex Long holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina. Alex is interested in human behavior and marketing and comes to the GLS program to “learn more about what differentiates people from others,” with consideration of “culture, race, religion, childhood experiences, or genetics.”

A civics and economics teacher in the Wake County Public Schools, Razvan Molotiu has a bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University. A native of Romania, Razvan comes to the GLS program to explore questions emerging from the immigrant experience – how to reconcile oneself with the past, “what happens to a people who find themselves unmoored, cut loose from the comforts and traditional of an age, culture, or nation that no long exist?”

A recent veteran of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division, William Osborn holds a bachelor’s degree in security and risk analysis from Pennsylvania State University. Committed to a career serving his country, William comes to GLS to complement his undergraduate studies with a “broader scope of knowledge,” to better prepare him for a PhD in public policy.

Francesca Prince holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire. She hopes to pursue a career that contends with “social, educational, and economical inequalities” here in the US, and comes to GLS for its interdisciplinary perspective, taking courses in public and social policy, geography, sociology, history,
economics, and anthropology.

Sara Reams has a bachelor’s degree in English and theater from Mount St. Mary’s University. She comes to GLS to explore and find her focus for her eventual career. Sara hopes to follow GLS with “doctoral work so she may teach English at the college level.”

A native of Iran, Katayoun Sadri holds a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Tehran/ Mashad Medical School and has been a pediatric hospitalist in Stanford, CA. Putting aside an early interest in philosophy and the humanities to focus on her medical education and career, Katayoun now feels she “can afford to pursue my interest in humanities seriously and in a structured manner.”

Ian Sloat holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College and a bachelor’s degree in popular culture from Brock University. With a career goal of reference librarian in an academic library, Ian comes to the GLS program for its interdisciplinary perspective, allowing him to “broaden my subject expertise…, giving me multiple perspectives across cultural and social boundaries, aiding my abilities to serve others.”

LaCresha Styles has a bachelor’s degree in English from Duke, where she was a student-athlete and team captain of track and field. With a particular interest in Japanese culture and literature, LaCresha hopes for a career in international reporting or commerce. She believes the “interdisciplinary structure of the [GLS] program will provide a well-rounded, varied curriculum which will prime me for either… while still allowing me to continue my current study of the liberal arts.”

Shannon Sullivan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke, where she threw javelin on the track and field team.  While anticipating a career in politics or public policy, she seeks to “explore my passion for politics through other lenses …. [T]oo often throughout my undergraduate studies I found myself looking at political issues that require social, cultural, economic and even psychological considerations.” She hopes the GLS curriculum will satisfy that need.

Captain of the varsity swim team, Francesca Tocci earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke. Planning on a career in medicine, Francesca had the opportunity to immerse herself in the field through the Collegiate Athlete Pre-medical Experience (CAPE) program. Over the course of her undergraduate experiences, Francesca has “capitalized on [these] opportunities,” converting life’s challenges into effective solutions. It is this creativity she brings to the GLS program.

Tony Watson is an independent consultant/sales engineer with SP3 Diamond with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UNC Charlotte. Coming to the GLS program for personal enrichment, Tony is interested in “exploring a multitude of subjects ranging from history, literature, music, language, and philosophy.”

BanBan Wu has a bachelor’s degree in general business from Missouri State University (Dalian, China). She hopes for a career as a government official to help implement the political and social reforms she sees as her country’s challenges. BanBan comes to the GLS program to “expand my humanistic concern, improve my intellectual growth and strengthen my critical thinking ability.” She plans to earn a law degree after completing the GLS program.

Danqi Wu holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Pittsburgh. Planning a media career, she’s hoping the GLS program will “provide me with a strong foundation of the diverse factors within the global community – an understanding that will play a major role in my career.”

With a bachelor’s degree in history from Renmin University of China, Xiang “Teddy” Shiyi concentrated in the history of China’s Western Regions, “important components of the Silk Road,” and early globalization. She hopes the GLS curriculum will “quench my thirst for more knowledge,” providing a comprehensive education not confined to a single discipline.

Yang Zhao has a bachelor’s degree in English from Xi’an Jiaotong University, School of international Studies. The GLS program, he tells us, “will provide an excellent platform to study liberal arts… while helping to enhance my academic achievement, communication skills and logical thinking.” He hopes for a career in management consulting.

With a bachelor’s degree in English from Southeast University (Nanjing, China), Bing Zhu comes to GLS to “satisfy my eclectic appetite for literature and allow me to go across disciplinary boundaries to seek an education.” Characterizing the GLS course list as “an inviting assortment of exotic candies,” Bing hopes the personal enrichment and exposure to the world she gains through GLS will help her find her path.