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A Q&A with Linda Hoffman Sterling (’83), Chair, DukeEngage National Advisory Board (DENAB)

  • 03.24.17
  • Posted By: Cathy S
    • Linda Sterling png

I believe in Tikkun Olam, the desire to ‘repair the world.’  We all can do our part to make the world a better place.”


When and how did I learn about DukeEngage? 

I learned about DukeEngage several years ago from Barbara Janulis, a current DENAB board member and my sorority little sister. (Shout out to all the Kappa Alpha Thetas out there!) Barbara had a dinner in New York City to introduce DukeEngage to alums who were interested in learning more. She had shared with me her passion for DukeEngage and how it was a transformative experience for Duke students, as they were able to participate in civic engagement for eight weeks in the U.S. or around the world. After getting to meet Eric Mlyn, the program’s executive director, and understanding in greater depth the work that he and his staff did, I knew this was a place that I wanted to get more involved with. And my own children were heading off to college, so I knew I had time to devote to DukeEngage.

How does DukeEngage connect with your own life and experiences?

I have three favorite things in life: Duke, travel, and civic engagement. I’ve been involved with Duke ever since I graduated with both an AB and an MBA (I participated in the 3/2 program). Having been on the Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee, as well as chair of Duke alumni interviewing in Essex and Hudson counties in NJ, I had the opportunity to interact with many Duke alums, as well as the incoming students, and this kept me involved with Duke since my graduation in 1983. 

My passion for travel was kindled at a young age. When I was 16, I spent time in Brazil as a Rotary Exchange student. During that year, I lived with several wonderful Brazilian families. I also had the opportunity to speak at several Rotary meetings that year. When I returned to my hometown for my senior year of high school, I was a changed person. Rotary is all about service to others, and that year in Brazil sparked a desire to get involved, to meet people in their own communities, and to understand their needs and dreams. Today, that passion for civic engagement keeps me motivated and involved in my own community, too. I’ve served on many local boards, in addition to my work on regional and international levels.  Board work, as well as hands-on community work, together improve the lives of so many people.

What one thing do you want people to know about DukeEngage?

I would love for people to understand how transformative the DukeEngage experience is. It’s not tourism. It’s getting involved on a grassroots level and using your creativity and intelligence to find solutions to real-world problems. And with so much of civic engagement, as we go out to help others, we find that we are the ones who are changed the most. The motto of DukeEngage — “Challenge Yourself. Change Your World” — is so true! Students aren’t necessarily changing THE world, but they are almost always changing THEIR world. In fact, one of my favorite parts of DukeEngage is when the students come back to campus and find that they view their education and experience in a whole new way. 

In what ways do you hope your financial support will make an impact on Duke undergraduates? And on Duke?

I hope that my financial support of DukeEngage will help more students have the opportunity to experience the program, and with that, the chance to live in a community somewhere in the world where they might never have had the opportunity otherwise. This year, I’m helping to underwrite the DukeEngage Community Partner Conference, which will take place in November 2017. The conference brings our community partners from all over the world to Durham to share their experiences and create even stronger ties. Many of our partners have never been outside of their own community or country. Perhaps they’ve never been on a plane before. But they have so much to contribute to the conversation about our work — and we can learn so much with them. After meeting other community partners, and more of DukeEngage’s staff and students, attendees come away with more ideas, more creativity, and more energy. It’s a truly collaborative and reciprocal situation.

This will be the first Community Partner Conference that I will have the chance to attend, and I’m very excited about it! 

When you talk with program alumni, are there any questions that you always ask?

When I meet students who have participated in DukeEngage, I always ask: “What was the thing that surprised you the most?” And then I ask if they’ve gotten more involved with Duke in a leadership position since their return. One of the program directors I talked to last summer at the DukeEngage Academy training conference shared with me how the students who go on DukeEngage come back and are more passionate about becoming leaders on the Duke campus. For many students, the program builds a desire to contribute and lead on a deeper level, and after DukeEngage students have greater confidence in their abilities to make a difference.  

I also love hearing how DukeEngage alumni stay committed to civic engagement even after they graduate. Their passion for being involved in their communities and wanting to make a difference inspires me. I love hearing these stories!

What conversations with program alumni stand out as your all-time favorites?

My favorite stories from program alums are usually about how DukeEngage has completely changed the student’s life trajectory. From what they are studying, to the kind of career they hope to follow, the work they do on the project often uncovers a passion that they did not know existed. They come back to Duke and take courses they would never have experimented with before. They look into careers that might never have considered. Emily Lang (Kenya), Anders Campbell (Durham), and Hailey Diaz (Miami) were three of the program alums who impressed me the most.

This summer I am hoping to visit the DukeEngage program in Detroit, as well as the New York City program near where I live. I can’t wait to meet the students while they are participating in the program and hear more about the projects they’re working on while they’re immersed in their summer communities.

Boston Program Director Professor David Malone recognized by the Cook Society

  • 12.15.16
  • Posted By: Kate Rodgers

Congratulations to our Boston Program Director Professor David Malone for receiving the Samuel DuBois Cook Society Raymond Gavins Distinguished Faculty Award. This is the 20th anniversary of the Samuel DuBois Cook Society Awards, which has recently been renamed to honor the late Professor Raymond Gavins. Among other qualifications, the award recognizes those who have been influential in working towards, “betterment of relations between persons of all backgrounds.” A dinner at the Washington Duke Inn will be held on February 21st, 2017, to honor the recipients of this prestigious award. Read more about the Samuel DuBois Cook Society here.

DukeEngage alum Henry Warder continues to follow his passion for prosthetics

  • 12.13.16
  • Posted By: Kate Rodgers
    • Henry Warder ROMP

DukeEngage alum Henry Warder is making great advances in the field of prosthetic limbs. Warder completed an independent DukeEngage project in Ecuador working with ROMP, a nonprofit which creates prosthetics, and then went on to co-found Duke’s eNABLE chapter with Richard Beckett-Ansa. This club is dedicated to explore the advances that can be made in the field of prosthetics with the aid of 3D printers. The latest project the two seniors are working on is the creation of a prosthetic hand for Kaylyn McGuyrt, a women who lives in Wake Forest, with the use of the 60 3D printers located in Duke’s Innovation Co-Lab. Read more about the amazing way Warder is continuing his civic engagement in the Chronicle article here.

Collin Leonard Develops Devices to Aid Amputees with ROMP

  • 11.03.16
  • Posted By: Liz Corrao

          Collin Leonard (Pratt ‘19) completed his independent project during the summer of 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, working with the Range of Motion Project (ROMP). ROMP is a nonprofit health care organization dedicated to providing prosthetic and orthotic care to underserved individuals and communities. During his two months at ROMP, Leonard worked on two major projects: a bionic hand and a dressing device for patients at clinic.

            Leonard first worked on a 3D printed prosthetic hand called the HACKberry, using the design model and license systems made available through the HACKberry Open Source Project. This community-driven, open source policy means that artificial arm users and developers can access all the necessary files and materials to print the bionic hand. A report on the design was sent back to the developers, allowing Leonard to give feedback that will help developers around the world improve the model’s next prototype. In this way, Leonard and his partners at ROMP were able to directly contribute to ongoing global progress in the design and production of bionic and artificial limbs.

            Additionally, Leonard was involved in building a dressing device for a bilateral amputee patient at the clinic. Leonard worked on multiple designs for the device, then iteratively built and improved them. He hopes that the low cost of the device will allow a large number of bilateral amputees to gain access to the tools needed to live a more independent life. Throughout his progress on both of these projects, Leonard also worked at a prosthetic clinic three days a week building prosthetics and orthotics in the ROMP workshop.

            For this interview with DukeEngage, Leonard discussed the many challenges associated with 3D printing and the ample room for advancement in the field. Despite the frustrations of working with this relatively new technology, Leonard says that the relationships he built with the patients and their families was the most rewarding part of building these devices.

            At Duke, Leonard’s work with the Innovation Co-Lab helped encourage his interest in 3D modeling and design. Leonard’s DukeEngage experience in Ecuador affirmed his desire to work internationally after graduation. After realizing a particular interest in the role that patents and corporations play in the process of innovation, Leonard has positioned his post-graduation graduation goals toward international business and social entrepreneurship.  

To learn more about the Range of Motion Project, visit our Featured Partners Page

DukeEngage Welcomes New National Advisory Board Members

  • 10.21.16
  • Posted By: Cathy S

The DukeEngage National Advisory Board is comprised of prominent Duke alumni and friends from around the country who have demonstrated the values of leadership and service that DukeEngage embodies. The role of this Board is one of advice and advocacy.

We extend our gratitude and warm welcome to the following new board members:

Patricia Morton '77, P'06, Charlotte, NC

Alexandra Swain, '13, New York, NY

Andrew Nurkin '03, Lambertville, NJ

Mark Todzo '86, P'20, Hillsborough, CA

Benay Todzo P'20, Hillsborough, CA

Dennis Clements H.S. '73-'74, H.S. '86-'88, P'04, Chapel Hill, NC


View the DukeEngage National Advisory Board roster in its entirety.

DukeEngage Student Essays Published in New Book from Charles Piot and DukeEngage Togo Participants

  • 10.18.16
  • Posted By: Liz Corrao

        DukeEngage is proud to celebrate the release of Doing Development in West Africa, a Duke University Press book featuring the work of DukeEngage participants, edited and facilitated by DukeEngage Togo program leader, Charles Piot. Since 2008, cultural anthropologist Charles Piot has connected Duke students with the opportunity to initiate development projects in West Africa through DukeEngage Togo. This year, he has compiled student essays documenting and reflecting on the work done in these communities as a way of sharing the challenges, successes, and failures of carrying out meaningful initiatives.

        Piot’s contributions help contextualize the various student projects in terms of West African developmental progress in recent history, and provide insight regarding the prospective success of different types of ventures. By giving DukeEngage participants the chance to share their perspective, Doing Development in West Africa emphasizes the importance of cultural understanding and discovery when approaching challenges abroad.

        Join us in celebrating the book’s release on Thursday, October 27, 2016, from 4-6pm in the Duke Office of Civic Engagement (Smith Warehouse, Bay 9, First Floor). The event will include an introduction from Piot, as well as selected readings from DukeEngage participants. DukeEngage and the Duke Office of Civic Engagement are thrilled to be presenting the publication, and hope it inspires students to strive to broaden the range of impact of their service learning experiences.

    • Piot Book

Thomas Phillips Joins DukeEngage Staff

  • 10.18.16
  • Posted By: Liz Corrao

       DukeEngage is pleased to announce that Thomas Phillips will be joining its staff as Assistant Director for Programs. The Alabama native attended Auburn University prior to several years of service all around the globe, including membership in the Peace Corps, and teaching languages in New Mexico and South Korea. As a member of the DukeEngage team, Phillips will be able to pass his understanding of the value of global civic engagement onto Duke students. Visit the DukeEngage Staff Bio page to read more about Thomas Phillips. 

    • Thomas Phillips

New DukeEngage programs announced for summer of 2017

  • 09.29.16
  • Posted By: Cathy S

New for the summer of 2017, programs have been added in Chile, Costa Rica, India, Rwanda, Uganda and Hawaii.


Three of the six new programs — Neltume, Chile; Monteverde and Santa Elena, Costa Rica; and Kaua’i, HI — focus on environmental policy, sustainability and conservation efforts. All three are faculty-led programs. The new program in Ahmedabad, India, is also faculty-led, with a focus on children and youth, women’s empowerment and human services. The program in Kigali, Rwanda, focuses on public health, education, land reform, women’s rights and the well-being of children; this faculty-led program has strong ties to the Duke Center for Documentary Studies. The final program, Uganda-EWH (Engineering World Health), will focus on health care technology/engineering projects.

2016 Photo Find Winners Announced

  • 09.27.16
  • Posted By: Kate Rodgers

Congrats to the winning participants in the 2nd annual DukeEngage Photo Find Awards. During their summer working with community partners in the U.S. and abroad, DukeEngage group and independent project participants were invited to submit their best photos in four categories: immersion, partnership, reflection and gratitude. The following 8 images and artist statements were selected as winners because they best represent the DukeEngage mission and values.

See the photos on the DukeEngage website, or in The Chronicle.

Blog Highlights the Experiential Learning DukeEngage Provides

  • 09.13.16
  • Posted By: Kate Rodgers

DukeEngage student James Hwang recently returned from the DukeEngage program in Washington DC; through the month-long program, he worked closely with those in Washington involved in health care policy as well as global heath initiatives.

"Being in Washington has allowed me to experience a career-oriented internship, placed me on the forefront of U.S. public policy, and underscored the magnitude of the possible impact from the actions of only a few people. I can think of no other life experience in which I have learned so much in so little time. From panel discussions with prominent policymakers to simply experiencing the independence of living in a big city, this DukeEngage program has been immersive in ways unimaginable prior to my flight to Reagan National Airport."

To read his full reflection, click here.


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Read all of this summer's student-written blogs. 

    • DukeEngage Cairo