Sarah enjoying a sandwhichHometown: Durham, NC 

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Professional Interests:  
It is my hope that all students feel heard, valued, encouraged, and supported as they forge their path at Duke and in the world.

Summary of previous professional experience:
I’ve spent 10+ years as an educator, researcher, and clinical and forensic social worker in public school, community, and university settings across Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. I also worked in Durham’s vibrant restaurant industry for seven years, including all four years of undergrad.

Educational background: 

  • Ph.D., UNC School of Social Work
  • M.S.W., UNC School of Social Work
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum Development, Lesley University
  • B.A. in Sociology, Duke

 Intellectual interests: I am interested in identifying and leveraging relational, programmatic, and systemic approaches that promote equitable learning.

Fun fact/what I do for fun: 

  • I broke both of my feet at the same time falling off a C-1 on the way to an econ midterm my first semester at Duke. I ended with two dorm rooms and a 10+ year-long friendship with Assistant Dean of Students, David Frankel, who was the Dean on Call at the time of my accident.
  • I love lying on the floor with my dog, Theo, creating oddly specific playlists, spending time in nature, reading moody novels, obsessing over my plants, and cooking with and for family and friends.

What was the most challenging part of college for you? What did you learn from that experience? 
I didn’t have a group of friends, and I perceived that as abnormal, at first. I’d occasionally go with friends to their Greek and/or SLG events, and crash others’ pre-orientation program reunions, but these weren’t “my” people. I wondered if I was doing college “wrong.” But, as it turns out, there wasn’t a “wrong.” With time, I developed friendships with folks from class, my dorm, and by just running into people enough times in a row to start chatting. And then maybe I became friends with their friends, too. I learned that I like to be alone and in tiny groups, and that neither of these truths prevent me from developing meaningful and long-term friendships.

Looking back, what would you tell your college-aged self?                                      “It’s better to tolerate a minimal amount of embarrassment and ask your roommate, who is a morning person, for help waking up than it is to repeatedly miss your French class and lose 7 points on your final grade!” That’s a real thing that happened (I didn’t ask for help).

What were the most valuable lessons you learned in college? 

  1. Your value is not defined by your productivity. Okay, internalizing this is a forever process, but it started in college.
  2. You can create freedom through structure. Counterintuitive, and a little…rigid…I know. But I really struggled to figure out how to use my time. My parents told me to try treating Monday through Friday as  “work” days in a 9-5 way. And it worked for me. I would generally spend from 10am-6pm in class, preparing for class, or on longer-term assignments. Having this as my regular schedule meant that I was staying on track enough to be able to say yes to lunches, or movies, or an afternoon laying in the grass, when those opportunities arose, without doing a cost-benefit analysis of every decision in the moment.
  3. Three nights in a row without sleeping is…too many. Enough said.
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